Survivors of sexual abuse and exploitation were dealt an unjust blow when lawyers for New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft were able to convince certain Florida judges that videos investigators gathered of him paying for sex in an illicit massage parlor should not be admitted to court. Kraft faces two charges of solicitation of prostitution for his activities in 2019 at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, Florida where he was arrested as part of a sting targeting sex trafficking in the state. Officials found that women at the spa worked in deplorable conditions and performed sex acts on an average of 1,500 men per year.
Kraft’s move to avoid these charges by challenging the admissibility of the videos is just the latest instance of a powerful billionaire using his influence and money to avoid responsibility for his crimes. Prosecutors have appealed the case to higher courts, but if the inadmissibility ruling is upheld all the way through to the Florida Supreme Court then their case against Kraft will almost certainly fail – even though Kraft’s guilt is “a virtual certainty.”
So far, Kraft has also not faced any professional consequences for his sexually exploitative actions. Despite calls for the NFL to enforce its own Personal Conduct Policy, commission an investigation into his behavior, and remove Kraft from team ownership, the NFL has ignored the scandal and not sanctioned Kraft over this matter in any way.
The NFL’s inaction illustrates the industry’s true priorities. Clear but unspoken is this calculation: Robert Kraft is popular and wealthy, he has overseen six Super Bowl wins for the Patriots, and has netted the NFL no small amount of revenue in doing so. For the NFL, it seems that ensuring that Kraft can continue this work is more important than upholding community standards of decency or advocating for justice for the women he exploited—many of whom were likely victims of severe sex trafficking.
The “kid gloves” treatment Kraft has received from the media and the NFL smacks of a similar scandal wherein, for more than a decade, billionaire Jeffrey Epstein managed to avoid serious charges for molesting, raping, and trafficking scores of underage girls.
Despite extensive evidence from multiple witnesses regarding the “sex pyramid scheme” Epstein perpetrated for years, he served only thirteen months in prison. And as part of an unprecedented “non-prosecution agreement” secretly negotiated by his powerful attorneys, four of Epstein’s named accomplices and all of his unnamed co-conspirators were granted immunity from future prosecution.
To add insult to injury, Epstein’s death by apparent suicide in 2019 denied his victims the opportunity to see him brought to justice. Over a year later, many of Epstein’s most prominent co-conspirators have yet to be held accountable for their roles in the sexual abuse and exploitation.
Like Kraft, Epstein was a powerful and well-connected multi-billionaire. Like Kraft, Epstein leveraged his reputation and resources to avoid facing real consequences for his crimes.
Without the demand created by commercial sex buyers who have both the willingness and ability to purchase people to use for sex, prostitution and sex trafficking would not need to exist to serve as supply for that demand. Without people and organizations enabling and excusing their behavior, these powerful men would not be able to continually get away with such egregious and criminal behavior.
When we excuse Robert Kraft’s actions as merely “minor” bad decisions, what we are saying is that the reputation of a wealthy NFL owner is more important than seeing justice served to right the wrong of the abuse and degradation endured by the women whose lives he helped ruin. We validate the belief held by men such as Kraft and Epstein that they have the right to purchase a woman and use her body for personal sexual gratification, simply because they have the means to do it and avoid meaningful consequences. The NFL’s refusal to investigate and sanction Kraft makes them complicit in this worldview.
Join us in demanding justice for Jeffrey Epstein’s victims: click here to sign the petition to indict Epstein’s co-conspirators.
Click here to see the full letter demanding that the NFL investigate the charges against Kraft and take appropriate action.