FILE PHOTO: New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft attends a conference at the Cannes Lions Festival in Cannes, France, June 23, 2017. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard
(Reuters) – A Florida judge on Tuesday temporarily blocked prosecutors from releasing hidden camera footage that allegedly shows New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft engaged in sexual acts inside a massage parlor.
The billionaire owner of the six-time Super Bowl champions is among dozens of men accused of soliciting prostitution inside Orchids of Asia Spa in Jupiter, Florida. He has pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor charges and issued a public apology for his actions.
Palm Peach County Judge Leonard Hanser said Kraft’s right to a fair trial could be harmed if prosecutors release the video to media outlets, which requested the footage under Florida’s robust open government laws.
“The potential jury pool would be given the opportunity to preview trial evidence, including identifying (Kraft) as the person depicted in the videotapes,” Hanser wrote in a ruling posted to the court docket.
The videos will remain sealed until a jury is seated, a plea deal is reached or the case is dismissed, Hanser said.
Another judge, who is overseeing the prosecution of the spa’s owner and manager, had previously blocked public dissemination of any footage until he holds a hearing on the matter next week.
Kraft, 77, purchased the Patriots, one of the National Football League’s most successful franchises, in 1994.
Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Scott Malone and Steve Orlofsky