No special justice for accused NFL owner

The day spaImage copyright
Getty Images

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Police say they have surveillance video of the alleged sex crimes taking place

Robert Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots football team, has been formally summoned to appear in court to face prostitution charges.

Palm Beach County State’s Attorney Dave Aronberg in Florida said on Monday that the accused billionaire should not expect “special justice” in court.

Police say they have footage of Mr Kraft, 77, twice engaging in a sex act with prostitutes at a day spa.

Mr Kraft has denied the allegations through his spokesman.

Prosecutors will “treat everyone the same, whether you have a lot of money or are indigent”, Mr Aronberg said during a news conference on Monday to formally announce the charges.

What is he accused of?

According to the sexually graphic charge sheet formally unsealed on Monday, Mr Kraft was driven to the spa on 19 January in a white Bentley luxury car.

The next day he returned, this time driven in a blue Bentley.

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Media captionPolice in Jupiter said they had video of Mr Kraft “receiving the alleged acts”

Police say video evidence shows him undressing, and lying on a table for a massage before a woman is seen fondling his genital region.

After about 15 minutes, he is seen handing cash to the woman alleged to have engaged in a sex act with him.

According to US media, the alleged encounter came about seven hours before Mr Kraft attended the AFC Championship game in Kansas City.

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New York Jets fans stand outside the day spa

Who else has been charged?

Mr Kraft – reportedly worth $6.6bn (£5bn) – was not the only billionaire netted in the sting operation against the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, Florida.

Equity firm owner John Childs, 77, is also among the 173 men charged by prosecutors as part of the months-long sting operation.

Mr Childs, the owner of JW Childs Associates in Massachusetts, has been a prominent Republican donor, and has given over $4m to Republican candidates and organisations in the last several years alone, according to federal records.

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Getty Images

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Billionaire John Childs is also charged with soliciting prostitution

“The accusation of solicitation of prostitution is totally false,” Mr Childs told Bloomberg News. “I have retained a lawyer,” he added.

If found guilty, the misdemeanour crime could carry a penalty of up to one year in prison for each man, along with a “mandatory 100 hours of community service, a mandatory $5,000 fine, and a mandatory class on the dangers of prostitution and human trafficking”, Mr Aronberg said.

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Google/Jupiter Police

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A Google street image of the spa, owned by Hua Zhang (top right)

What has the NFL said?

Mr Kraft’s problems may not only be legal, but may extend into his sport career as well.

In an updated statement on Monday, the NFL said its “personal conduct policy applies to everyone” in the league.

“We will handle this allegation in the same way we would handle any issue under our policy,” the league said in a statement.

“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.”

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