Live updates: Lions vs. Vikings

Robert Kraft’s sex videos from police sting should be destroyed, judge orders

Marc Freeman
South Florida Sun Sentinel

Fort Lauderdale, Fla. – Sex videos of New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft are set to be destroyed under a court order.

It’s been two years since the 79-year-old billionaire was among more than two dozen people secretly videotaped by police during a massage parlor prostitution sting in Palm Beach County.

U.S. District Judge Rodolfo A. Ruiz II on Friday ruled that the videos of Kraft and the others must be wiped from existence, because the Jupiter police surveillance was deemed unlawful. Kraft had feared the tapes of him in the nude would be publicized on the internet.

In this Feb. 2, 2020, file photo, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft walks on the field before the NFL Super Bowl 54 football game between the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs, in Miami Gardens, Fla.

The unopposed order – which does not cite Kraft by name – comes four months after Palm Beach County prosecutors grudgingly threw out two misdemeanor counts against Kraft, ending a high-profile case that more broadly touched on the privacy rights of Americans.

County and state appeals courts last year sided with arguments by Kraft’s legal team that the cops improperly used so-called “sneak-and-peek” warrants to ensnare Kraft and the others, who visited the Orchids of Asia Day Spa over a period of five days in January 2019.

The appellate court found the cops messed up by recording two women and two men who got legitimate massages, rather than training their lenses only on the men paying for sexual services.

With all of the videos deemed illegal, Kraft’s legal team had been pushing for them to be erased permanently.

“Considering that the Videos never should have been created according to judicial rulings that are binding and conclusive, the Videos should be destroyed so that they can never be subject to any misuse, intentional or otherwise,” wrote attorneys Frank A. Shepherd, William Burck and Alex Spiro.

On Dec. 30, Chief Assistant State Attorney Al Johnson responded that his office “has no interest in maintaining possession of, or releasing to the public, any of the surveillance videos garnered through these prosecutions post litigation, and never has been so inclined.”

The only obstacle to destruction of the videos has been a still lingering federal civil lawsuit, pursued by anonymous people who said they were recorded getting lawful massages in violation of their rights.

State Attorney Dave Aronberg has called it a phony case aimed at pressuring his office to throw out the criminal charges. Aronberg’s office had objected to the destruction of the videos as long as the federal case remained pending.

But last week, lawyers for the “John Doe” and unnamed others who sued Aronberg and Jupiter police, dropped Aronberg from the federal case, and announced a settlement had been reached with the town to end the litigation. The terms were not disclosed.

Jupiter police and the people who brought the lawsuit agreed that the videos must be destroyed, and the judge granted that request. A “neutral third party” is to be hired to watch over the destruction, records show.

Edward Mullins, Miami-based attorney for the anonymous person who filed the federal claim, also noted that the unlawful videos must not be released to the media or anyone else. The videos have been sealed under court orders.

The lawyer explained that constitutional privacy rights of the people who were recorded outweigh any rights the public has to obtain court records.

“It would make no logical sense for a document that would not have existed but for an illegal and unconstitutional act to be a public record,” Mullins wrote.