The NFL said on Feb. 25 that it will treat the charges against New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft equally to everyone involved in the league after the billionaire was charged with two counts of soliciting a prostitute as part of a vast crackdown on an international human trafficking ring in Florida.
Kraft faces two counts of misdemeanor solicitation of a prostitute connected to a sting at a massage parlor in Jupiter, Florida. The evidence against him includes video recordings collected from hidden cameras inside the spa, which include sexual acts involving Kraft, police say.
“Our personal conduct policy applies to everyone in the NFL. We will handle this allegation in the same way we would handle any issue under our policy. We are seeking a full understanding of the facts, while ensuring that we do not interfere with an ongoing law enforcement investigation. We will take appropriate action as warranted based on the facts,” the NFL said in a statement.
Kraft denied the allegations through a spokesperson on Feb. 22. He is alleged to have paid for sex at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa on two occasions. The spa was one of 10 shut down after a wide-ranging sting operation on Feb. 22.
“We categorically deny that Mr. Kraft engaged in any illegal activity,” a spokesman for Kraft said in a statement. “Because it is a judicial matter, we will not be commenting further.”
Authorities say women at the spa were mostly Chinese, worked as sex servants, and were not permitted to leave the spas. They are connected to human traffickers in China and New York, according to Martin County Sheriff William Snyder.
Police issued a total of 300 arrest warrants in the case, but say that it’s far from over. Billionaire equity firm owner John Childs was also charged with soliciting a prostitute as part of the same operation. Childs also denied the accusation.
If convicted of the misdemeanor charges, Kraft and Child would face a maximum of 60 days in jail and a $500 fine as first-time offenders. Kraft also could be subject to disciplinary action by the NFL.
Reuters contributed to this report.