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JUPITER, Fla. (AP) — New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft faces misdemeanor charges of soliciting a prostitute after he was twice videotaped in a sex act at a Florida massage parlor, police said Friday in a case that could get him in trouble with the NFL.

The 77-year-old Kraft denied any wrongdoing.

He was not immediately arrested. Jupiter police said a warrant will be issued and his attorneys will be notified. They said details about the charges against the owner of the Super Bowl champion team will not be released until next week.

The charge comes amid a crackdown on sex trafficking from Palm Beach to Orlando in which police planted cameras in massage parlors.

Hundreds of arrest warrants have been issued in recent days as a result of a six-month investigation, and more are expected. Ten spas have been closed, and several people have been taken into custody on sex trafficking charges.

Jupiter police Chief Daniel Kerr said he was shocked to learn that Kraft, who is worth $6 billion, was paying for sex inside a shopping-center massage parlor, the Orchids of Asia Day Spa. “We are as equally stunned as everyone else,” Kerr said.

Most people charged for the first time with soliciting a prostitute in Florida are allowed to enter a diversion program, said attorney David Weinstein, a former prosecutor. Kraft would probably have to perform 100 hours of community service and attend a course on the harmful effects of prostitution and sex trafficking, he said.

The NFL did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment. Under league policy, players, owners, coaches and other employees can be punished for “conduct detrimental to the integrity of and public confidence in” the NFL.

“Ownership and club or league management have traditionally been held to a higher standard and will be subject to more significant discipline,” the policy says.

The Patriots won the Super Bowl this month over the Los Angeles Rams for their sixth NFL championship in the past 18 seasons, making them the most successful team in pro sports during that span. Before the Super Bowl, several retired NFL players appeared in a public service announcement decrying sexual exploitation and human trafficking in Atlanta, the host city.

Kraft lives in Massachusetts and has a home in the Palm Beach area. Though he is a Democrat, he is friendly with President Donald Trump and a frequent guest at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club. Kraft’s wife, Myra Hiatt Kraft, died in 2011. He has been dating 39-year-old actress Ricki Noel Lander since 2012.

“Well it’s very sad. I was very surprised to see it. He’s proclaimed his innocence, totally,” Trump said at the White House on Friday. “But I’m very surprised to see it.”

In a statement, Kraft’s representatives said they “categorically deny that Mr. Kraft engaged in any illegal activity.”

The spa Kraft allegedly visited is in a busy, upper-middle-class shopping center with neighbors that include a dentist, a real estate office, surf and bike shops and a Publix supermarket.

Vero Beach police Chief David Currey, whose agency has been involved in the sex-trafficking investigation, told reporters earlier this week that the prostitutes are victims who have been trapped into the trade.

“These girls are there all day long, into the evening. They can’t leave and they are performing sex acts,” Currey said, according to TCPalm. “Some of them may tell us they’re OK, but they’re not.”

Kraft, who made his initial fortune through a packaging company, bought the Patriots in 1994 for $172 million to keep the team from moving to St. Louis. He hired Bill Belichick as coach in 2000, and the team later drafted quarterback Tom Brady, launching its nearly two decades of success.

In 2007, the Patriots got in trouble for filming other teams’ signals. The NFL fined the team $250,000 and Belichick $500,000. In 2014, Brady was accused of delating game footballs to gain a better grip. He served a four-game suspension, and the Patriots were fined $1 million.

Kraft was not implicated in either scandal.


Spencer reported from Fort Lauderdale. AP sports writer Kyle Hightower in Boston and reporter Kevin Frekking in Washington, D.C., contributed to this report.

Look at these faces.  Share them.  Remember them.  Help them.

Nexstar Nation Big Game Digital reporter Ashley Bridges spent time this week with Deborah Richardson of the International Human Trafficking Institute:  that was before an Atlanta sex trafficking sting, just days before the Super Bowl, which resulted in the rescue of four victims and the arrest of 33 alleged traffickers.  Richardson helped train the 10,000 Super Bowl volunteers to identify signs of trafficking.

But, Richardson said it’s important to know that the Super Bowl doesn’t cause trafficking:  while the FBI reports upticks in numbers, Richardson emphasized it is a year-round problem.  She also insisted that because trafficking is a function of supply and demand, it is critical to shine a light on the people exploiting the victims, not the victims themselves.

One exception:  identifying victims to get them out.  For the past ten years, Richardson has partnered with the organization “In Our Backyard” using targeted analytics to distribute booklets with photographs of children who were believed to possibly be trafficked around the Super Bowl.  Last year in Minneapolis, the group distributed booklets with images of 34 children.  While not all of those children were necessarily being trafficked, the good news is 15 of them were recovered within two weeks.  Research shows that within 48 hours of going missing or running away a child or teen will be approached by a trafficker.  

Richardson identified the following resources and signs:

-If you see someone you believe to be from this booklet, you can call The National Center on Missing & Exploited Children at 1-800-843-5678

-If you suspect human trafficking, you can call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-3737-888; you can also text “help” or “info” to 233733 (BeFree)

-To help a runaway, you can call the Runaway Safeline at 1-800-Runaway

Signs of trafficking include:

-Someone not dressed appropriately:  for example having no coat in the cold or young girls wearing party clothes in the early morning, a mismatch between time, place, person, and dress

-Someone traveling between locations without a phone or belongings, or with a handler

-Someone not engaging in conversation as victims are taught to stay with a strict script

Following the Super Bowl, we will have an in-depth special about trafficking and ways authorities and activists are targeting traffickers and buyers–for both sex and labor.  

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Members of a Fishers CrossFit gym are merging fitness and ministry as part of a volunteer effort to aid human trafficking survivors.

Revival Fitness, located on Fishers Landing Drive, is partnering with the Hope Center of Indianapolis to build a fully-equipped gym for women at the ministry’s 25-acre campus seeking refuge, rehabilitation and resources to succeed.

The $12,000 project – dubbed “Revive Hope” – aims to transform a room at the Hope Center’s facility into a venue where women recovering from trauma and battered self-esteem can begin “feeling good about themselves again,” explained Missy McDowell, who co-owns Revival Fitness with husband Bryan McDowell.

“[Exercise] is a good outlet for any kind of negative emotion or stress,” she told 24-Hour News 8. “This is about being strong physically and mentally.”

The idea to build a gym at the Hope Center – which currently houses educational, creative and outdoor programs but no comprehensive fitness center – was initially hatched by Revival member Rafael Pedro.

The CrossFit aficionado credited his own health turnaround to the incremental challenges in the workout program designed by the McDowells.

“I realized I had to take it day-by-day and set smaller fitness goals,” said Pedro. “[I] don’t worry about the end result. That’ll take care of itself.”

The same “one-step-at-a-time” approach can be used by sex trafficking victims to steadily rebuild their lives, he explained, with daily goals that spark a sense of accomplishment.

“If you take a look at a person who’s been totally broken down by the lifestyle that’s been forced upon them, you can just imagine how limited they feel in the things they think they can do,” said Pedro. “Reviving their hope is the first step.”

He began devoting his time to helping others after losing his leg in 2004 to a motorcycle accident. Pedro said he embraced the ordeal as a spiritual opportunity to reevaluate his purpose in life and refused to pity himself as a victim of tragic loss.

“Look at me,” he said, marveling at his own ability to excel as a CrossFitter. “I want to show people that no matter how limited you are, you can still do great things… You can still inspire other people.”

Volunteer opportunities at the Hope Center can be accessed here.

Donations can be made through the following page on their official website.