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Patriots prostitute scandal

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft is being charged with misdemeanour solicitation of prostitution after he was twice videotaped paying for a sex act at an illicit massage parlour in Florida, police said Friday.

Jupiter police told reporters the 77-year-old Kraft hasn't been arrested. A warrant will be issued and his attorneys will be notified. Kraft has denied wrongdoing.

Police said details about the charges against Kraft will not be released until next week.

The charge comes amid a widespread crackdown on sex trafficking from Palm Beach to Orlando. Hundreds of arrest warrants have been issued in recent days as result of a six-month investigation and more are expected. Ten spas have been closed and several people charged with sex trafficking have been taken into custody.

Police said they secretly planted undercover cameras in targeted massage parlours and recorded the interactions between men and the female employees.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Kraft said they "categorically deny that Mr. Kraft engaged in any illegal activity. Because it is a judicial matter, we will not be commenting further."

The Patriots won the Super Bowl earlier in Atlanta this month over the Los Angeles Rams, their sixth in the past 18 seasons, making them the most successful team in pro sports during that span. In four other seasons, they made the Super Bowl.

Jupiter police Chief Daniel Kerr said he was shocked to learn that Kraft, who is worth $6 billion, was paying for sex inside a strip-mall massage parlour, the Orchids of Asia Day Spa.

"We are as equally stunned as everyone else," Kerr said.

The Palm Beach County state attorney's office, which would prosecute the case, had no comment.

Kraft lives in Massachusetts and has a home in the Palm Beach area. He is a frequent guest of President Donald Trump at his Mar-a-Lago club. Though a Democrat, he is friendly with Trump.

Kraft's wife Myra Hiatt Kraft died in 2011. He has been dating 39-year-old actress Ricki Noel Lander since 2012.

The NFL did not immediately respond to a message Friday 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 when violations of Personal Conduct Policy occur," the policy says.



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