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Patriots owner Robert Kraft, 79, cleared of massage parlor sex charge

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft has been cleared of soliciting prostitution charges in Florida following an appeals court’s ruling that the 79-year-old billionaire and others’ rights were violated when police secretly recorded them allegedly paying for sex at a massage parlor.

Palm Beach County court records show that the charge was dropped Thursday. Palm Beach State Attorney Dave Aronberg will explain the decision during an online press conference later Thursday. 

The unpublicized video recordings remain the only purported evidence implicating Kraft. However, felony charges against the Orchids of Asia spa owners and other employees accused of prostitution may proceed because prosecutors have obtained other evidence in the case, such as financial records.

Through his attorneys, Kraft has requested that the videos be destroyed to prevent them from being publicized.

Kraft and others were charged in February 2019 in a multi-county investigation of massage parlors that included the secret installation of video cameras in the spas’ lobbies and rooms. Police say the recordings show Kraft and other men engaging in sex acts with women and paying them.

Kraft visited the Orchids of Asia day spa in Jupiter, Florida twice in a 24-hour span in January, according to police records.

The first visit occurred on January 19, 2019, when Kraft allegedly received hand stimulation from 45-year-old spa manager Lei Wang and a 58-year-old spa employee named Shen Mingbi.

Neither Wang nor Mingbi are believed to be victims of human trafficking.

According to the affidavit, Kraft paid both women with a $100 bill.

Both Wang and Mingbi face prostitution charges.

The second visit occurred on January 20, 2019, just hours before Kraft flew to Kansas City for the AFC Title game between the Patriots and the Kansas City Chief.

That day, Kraft allegedly received oral sex from Wang, who is known as ‘Lulu.’ Kraft allegedly paid her with a $100 bill and another unidentified bill before leaving.

The NFL has insisted that Kraft will not get any special treatment as it addresses his sex solicitation case.

‘Our Personal Conduct Policy applies equally to everyone in the NFL. We will handle this allegation in the same way we would handle any issue under the Policy,’ it said in a statement after Kraft was charged.

‘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.’

Commissioner Roger Goodell could fine or suspend Kraft from any activities involving this year’s Super Bowl champions, and there will likely be a league inquiry.

The NFL’s personal conduct policy states that ‘ownership and club or league management have traditionally been held to a higher standard and will be subject to more significant discipline.

‘It is not enough simply to avoid being found guilty of a crime. We are all held to a higher standard and must conduct ourselves in a way that is responsible, promotes the values of the NFL, and is lawful,’ it states.

Although he may not be guilty in the legal sense, Kraft did offer an apology in March of 2019: ‘I am truly sorry. I know I have hurt and disappointed my family, my close friends, my co-workers, our fans and many others who rightfully hold me to a higher standard.

‘Throughout my life, I have always tried to do the right thing. The last thing I would ever want to do is disrespect another human being. I have extraordinary respect for women; my morals and my soul were shaped by the most wonderful woman, the love of my life, who I was blessed to have as my partner for 50 years.’

Kraft’s wife Myra died from cancer in 2011 at age 68. The two were married in 1963 and had four children together.

In 2012, it was revealed that Kraft was dating actress and model Ricki Noel Lander, 39.

Lander did give birth to a child in 2017, and while there was speculation it was his, Kraft has denied being the father.

The two attended Super Bowl LIII together on February 3, 2019 in Atlanta, but various reports have described the pair’s relationship as ‘off and on.’

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