March 19, 2019

Sexual Exploitation Survivors, Advocates Call on NFL to Banish Robert Kraft from Team Ownership

Survivors of sexual exploitation are appealing to the National Football League (NFL), following the arrest of Patriot’s owner, Robert Kraft, for allegedly purchasing women at an illicit massage parlor/spa in Florida last month.

In advance of the NFLs Annual League Meeting taking place March 24-27 in Phoenix, Arizona, 19 survivors and/or survivor-led organizations, along with more than 60 anti-sexual exploitation organizations and advocates, have joined in sending a letter asking the NFL to ban Robert Kraft from NFL team ownership should investigations confirm his purchase of women for sex.

It’s important for the NFL to recognize that those who buy people for sex engage in crimes of sexual coercion and violence,” said Lisa L. Thompson, Vice President of Policy and Research at the National Center on Sexual Exploitation. “Payment for sex is a raw manifestation of sexual coercion. Men who buy people for sex use money to gain power and exercise temporary sexual control over others—typically women and girls. Further, we know that if men stopped purchasing people for sex, there would be no sex trafficking.”

“For a team owner to engage in sexual exploitation is incompatible with the NFL’s personal conduct policy. Accordingly, survivors of sexual exploitation and trafficking, along with other advocates for the eradication of sexual exploitation call on the NFL to hold Robert Kraft accountable by banning him from NFL team ownership,” Thompson concluded.

In part, the letter (available in full, here) states:

In light of the current criminal allegations against Mr. Kraft, the NFL’s own Personal Conduct Policy, and its actions against other NFL employees who engaged in sexually harassing or exploitive activities (e.g., Ryan Murphy, Warren Sapp, Marshall Faulk, Heath Evans, Ike Taylor), at a minimum Mr. Kraft must be suspended for six games. However, assuming that the allegations against Mr. Kraft prove to be true, as explained above, the aggravating circumstances of his behavior demand his banishment from NFL team ownership. Anything less will send that signal that owners are not held to a higher standard, that their power, influence, and wealth permit them to get away with despicable actions, and that the NFL abets sexual exploitation and trafficking.

We also call on the NFL to take immediate and rigorous measures to create a corporate and sport culture that respects others, by rejecting all forms of sexual objectification, harassment, assault, and exploitation of women by owners, coaches, players, team personnel, and others associated with the NFL.”

For a research summary and other information on the harms of prostitution visit NCOSE’s Bright Light on the Red Light and Face the Demand projects.

For new research on male sex buying behavior see Demand Abolition’s report: Who Buys Sex? Understanding and Disrupting Illicit Market Demand.

Lisa Thompson

Lisa L. Thompson, Vice President of Research and Education, National Center on Sexual Exploitation

Vice President and Director of the NCOSE Research Institute

As Vice President of Research and Education for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, Lisa conducts policy analysis and advocacy, advances understanding of pornography’s public health harms, and liaises with public officials, advocates, and academics to advance strategies combating the web of sexual exploitation, including pornography, stripping, prostitution, sexual trafficking, sexual assault, and more.

Lisa joined NCOSE following two years with World Hope International where as Director of Anti-Trafficking, Lisa oversaw sex trafficking recovery programs in Cambodia, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. Lisa is a contributing author to Hands that Heal: International Curriculum for Caregivers of Trafficking Survivors, as well as the book Global Perspectives on Prostitution and Sex Trafficking:  Europe Latin America, North America, and Global. Lisa also routinely speaks and trains on sexual exploitation topics for a diverse range of audiences. Lisa served for more than 12 years as the Liaison for the Abolition of Sexual Trafficking for The Salvation Army USA National Headquarters.

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