A Florida judge blocked the release of surveillance video in Robert Kraft’s solicitation of prostitution case Tuesday, but the ruling also sent a signal the video might be released at some point.
Palm Beach County Judge Leonard Hanser ruled that releasing the video, which has been described as graphic, could prejudice potential jurors. But Hanser also said that once any threats to a fair trial have passed, the video might be released.
The video was taken as part of a prostitution and human-trafficking investigation into the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, Florida. Florida has some of the nation’s broadest open-records laws, and last week prosecutors said they intended to release the video as soon as possible because state law compels them to do so. Attorneys for Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, moved quickly to block the video’s release.
At the same time, attorneys for two of the massage parlor employees planned to try to stop another potential leak of the video. The New York Daily News reported last week that someone claiming to have a copy of the video tried to shop it to TheBlast.com. The women’s attorneys planned to ask Hanser to hold Jupiter police and the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s office accountable for any unauthorized release of the video.
Also Tuesday, a second woman allegedly involved with Kraft at the spa was charged with prostitution. Mingbi Shen, 58, was one of two women identified as having provided Kraft with sexual services in January, although she had not been previously charged with any crime.
Representatives for Kraft considered Hanser’s ruling a victory, as it seals the video while Kraft continues to fight the case.
Judge Hanser will preside over another hearing Friday to consider a separate motion by Kraft regarding the video evidence. That motion seeks to dismiss the video evidence altogether, arguing the video never should have been approved and was obtained under false pretenses.
The legal machinations continue to grind in a case that Kraft could put an end to by agreeing to a diversion agreement offered by state prosecutors last month. The deal would allow Kraft and 24 other defendants to have their records expunged and the evidence permanently sealed, but one of the conditions of the deal is that Kraft and the others would have to admit that had the case gone to court, they would have lost. Kraft’s representatives have said he refuses to admit he committed a crime and will continue to fight the misdemeanor charges.