BOSTON — Patriots owner Robert Kraft issued a statement Saturday afternoon regarding his recent charge for soliciting a prostitute in Florida.
The statement is Kraft’s first public words on the matter, though his attorney did issue a statement on Friday night denying human trafficking claims as they relate to Kraft’s case.
On Friday night, ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted out an official statement from William Burck, Kraft’s attorney. In the message, Burck denounced claims of human trafficking related to Kraft’s case, adding that the tactics used by Florida law enforcement in the sting were supposedly illegal.
Legal expert Peter Elikann said Kraft's statement won't necessarily help his case legally, but said the attention now turns to Kraft's attorney questioning how investigators gathered their evidence against him.
"They’re hoping to get him off of the case based on legal technicalities," Elikann said. "I'm not so sure that really helps him with the NFL."
The big question is whether the NFL will take action against Kraft, and Elikann said it's possible the league could interpret his recent statement as admitting to the crime.
"That’s the big mystery up in the air," Elikann said. "What is the NFL ultimately going to do if they find he’s responsible for this? Even if he gets off on a technicality or isn’t exactly found guilty, the NFL can still move against him with some sort of harsh punishment."
Elikann said it could be a matter of months before there's a resolution to the case against Kraft.
Diehard Patriots fans said they're pleased Kraft finally spoke up. However, some feel the apology is carefully worded.
"I'm glad to see that maybe he's apologized, does that mean he’s really taking responsibility?" Susan Hill said. "It sounds to me like he knows he did something wrong, but he doesn’t want to come out and say that he did something wrong, probably because he doesn’t want to be punished by the league. But, I do appreciate he has apologized, at least."
Other fans said Kraft simply made a mistake, and said they're ready to move on from the situation.
"People make mistakes, he made a mistake," Michael Coady said. "He’s owned up to it and there’s not too much more from there."
The statement comes after news that Kraft will not accept a plea deal offered by Florida prosecutors in the case against the New England Patriots owner and other men accused of soliciting prostitution at a Jupiter, Florida, day spa, a source familiar with the case told CNN on Wednesday.
Prosecutors offered to drop misdemeanor charges against Kraft and 24 other men in exchange for fines, community service and an admission they would be found guilty should the case go to trial, according to Mike Edmonson, spokesman for the Palm Beach State Attorney's Office.
Edmondson described the offer as standard for first-time offenders and said that none of the offers had been accepted as of Wednesday morning.
The 77-year-old Kraft was among more than 100 people linked last month to several central Florida day spas and massage parlors suspected of being used for prostitution and targeted by law enforcement during a monthslong investigation.
Police said Kraft twice visited the Orchids of Asia Day Spa. Video footage allegedly showed him receiving "paid acts" in a room at the spa and surveillance video shows him being driven to the spa, police Chief Daniel Kerr said last month.
The charges are second-degree misdemeanors and generally carry no more than a 60-day sentence in county jail, according to Edmondson.
Kraft is to be arraigned on March 28.
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