Secret massage parlor videos of New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft cannot be used at trial, a Florida appeals court ruled Wednesday.
The 4th District Court of Appeal ruled law enforcement violated Kraft’s rights, which are protected by the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures.
The court said allowing the videos to be used “would yield unbridled discretion to agents of law enforcement and the government” regarding Fourth Amendment issues, according to the Associated Press.
“The type of law enforcement surveillance utilized in these cases is extreme. While there will be situations which may warrant the use of the techniques at issue, the strict Fourth Amendment safeguards developed over the past few decades must be observed,” the judges ruled.
“To permit otherwise would yield unbridled discretion to agents of law enforcement and the government, the antithesis of the constitutional liberty of people to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures,” the court added.
Prosecutors are likely to appeal that ruling to the state Supreme Court, according to the AP.
Robert Kraft faces soliciting prostitution charge
Kraft, 79, was part of a sting aimed at breaking up a prostitution ring at massage parlors in Florida. Kraft was charged with two counts of solicitation in February 2019. As part of that operation, police secretly installed surveillance cameras in lobbies and rooms at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa. Police reportedly have footage of Kraft receiving oral sex at the spa.
Kraft’s attorneys and prosecutors have gone back and forth on whether the video will be released. Prosecutors have pushed for the video to be released, while Kraft’s attorneys have argued the video is “basically pornography.”
Police defend decision to film inside spa
State deputy solicitor general Jeffrey DeSousa argued police needed to obtain videos from inside the spa to charge its owners with felonies. DeSousa said police needed footage of massages in order to capture sex acts, and needed footage showing the owners received payments from the women who performed the sex acts.
DeSousa said the Kraft video should be permitted in court because it shows Kraft engaging in a crime, according to the AP.
DeSousa said even if the court finds police violated innocent customers’ privacy rights, the Supreme Court has ruled that in most circumstances, only improperly seized evidence should be thrown out. Since Kraft, the other men and the masseuses were engaged in crimes, their recordings should be permitted, he said.
Robert Kraft has avoided punishment from NFL
When the Kraft news broke, the NFL issued a statement it will handle the issue under the personnel conduct policy. The league said it had “a full understanding of the facts,” but wouldn’t interfere with the ongoing investigation.
The NFL has not punished Kraft yet. The league could do that depending on what happens in Kraft’s case.
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