Kraft, who denies doing anything illegal, was allegedly caught on video engaging in sexual acts at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, Fla.
Cheryl Fiandaca, WBZ’s chief investigative reporter for the I-Team and a licensed attorney, weighs in on Kraft’s legal woes, what his defense could be and what is likely to happen next.
QUESTION: The police said the arrest warrant will be issued. How long do they have and how does this typically play out?
CHERYL FIANDACA: It is probably going to be issued today. They are coming out and saying that these people are charged. Then, the only other thing that they need is to get a judge to sign a warrant saying that this person needs to show up to court and this is a warrant for his arrest. So, if he comes into the state he could be potentially arrested. And in a high-profile situation like this, that is never going to happen. Kraft’s lawyers are going to contact the county attorney in Florida and make arrangements for him to come into court and turn himself in.
Q: The charges are misdemeanors. What is Kraft looking at?
FIANDACA: He is potentially facing a year in jail – a year probation, criminal fines. Generally someone’s first offense, a first offense with no criminal record, it looks like this would be something like probation, continued without a finding and maybe a fine and that would probably be it. The issue in this is obviously that this is human trafficking, so this is a bigger concern. Florida law does say that anyone convicted of solicitation of prostitution – that is convicted, not a case continued without a finding – would have to do 100 hours of community service and attend a prostitution and human trafficking awareness course and undergo screening for sexually transmitted diseases and pay a $5,000 civil fine. That’s if convicted. If he is other than convicted, like continued without a finding, that wouldn’t apply.
Q: The human trafficking portion of this case really raises the stakes, doesn’t it?
FIANDACA: One hundred percent. If you have people being held against their will and being forced to participate in sex, and people are making money from that – and the two people allegedly making money from this enterprise are also charged – if those are the allegations, yes, it is much more serious. This is not an escort situation. This is a situation where there is a massage parlor in a strip mall that’s being run by two people – this all according to the police – and they have all of these women that are working seven days a week, long hours, providing sex to clients – that’s a problem.
Q: They did say there was potential for other charges, maybe not on Mr. Kraft, but obviously, the women who may have been running this spa. Is that where those might come up?
FIANDACA: The folks running the spa are different from the people working. Obviously, the women working, if the police believe they are being trafficked and they are there against their will and they are involved in this because people are making money off of them, and that is very, very big concern — human trafficking, especially in the Florida area. So, potentially, the charges are serious, even though they are misdemeanors, and there are two counts. They say they have video, and video evidence is very, very difficult to refute.
Q: Kraft has categorically denied the charges. What could his defense be?
FIANDACA: If they have specific evidence and they have video, you have a couple of things you can say. That you didn’t do it. You weren’t there. It’s not you. In this particular case, I don’t know that will be true. If it is true that the police have video evidence, the only other option you have is that this was consensual and that you had some type of a relationship and the person you engaged in these activities with was a willing participant. That is going to be challenging in this case because the police are alleging that these women were being trafficked, that they were there against their will and that there were two people running this operation that were forcing these women to do this. And that is going to be the evidence they are planning to present.
Of course, Mr. Kraft will have a very good criminal defense attorney that will look at all of the facts and circumstances and determine the best course of action. As with every person charged with a crime, they are presumed to be innocent. That is how our system works until he is proven guilty. Or decides to say, “I will admit to those facts. I’m not admitting to the crime, I’m admitting those are the facts.” Then, those cases are continued without a finding. So he would not be convicted. He has no criminal record. He has not ever been charged with prostitution before. The worst case situation for him would be that he is found guilty.
Q: How are police able to get video evidence?
FIANDACA: These are all undercover operations, and they take months. So they have an informant or someone working there who is willing to work with them. Or they have police officers that go in and pretend to be clients. All of that will be unfolded as they provide that information to the lawyers representing all of these men, including Mr. Kraft. So you are talking about a little bit of a lengthy process on the procedural side in court.
Q: Will they play the video in open court?
FIANDACA: The initial appearance will just be to make an initial appearance in court and the case will be continued. If the case goes to trial, then the evidence could be played in court. If he is going to try the case, the prosecutor will say, this is our evidence and we are going to show it in open court. Anyone in open court would be able to see it. So you can infer that if they do have this evidence and it is true and all the allegations they are making are true and they do have specific evidence that shows Robert Kraft engaging in sexual activity in the massage parlor that they say these women were being trafficked in, I doubt very much that this case will go to trial.