BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — An appeals court has barred the use of video footage at trial allegedly showing several men, including Patriots owner Robert Kraft, engaging in paid sex at a massage parlor in Florida.
79-year-old Kraft and dozens of others were charged in late February 2019, following a state investigation into alleged prostitution at several Florida massage parlors. Kraft pleaded not guilty to two misdemeanor prostitution charges, which were based on the video footage obtained at Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, Fla.
The state's investigation included the installation of hidden cameras, which were authorized by a so-called "sneak-and-peek" warrant, under the 2001 Patriot Act.
However the three-judge panel ruled Wednesday that Kraft and the other defendants' rights were violated by the recordings under the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures.
"The type of law enforcement surveillance utilized in these cases is extreme," the judges ruled. "While there will be situations which may warrant the use of the techniques at issue, the strict Fourth Amendment safeguards developed over the past few decades must be observed."
The Appeals court ruling issued Wednesday upheld a lower court ruling, and added that "total suppression of the video recordings was constitutionally warranted."
State prosecutors can now either appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court, proceed to trial without the video evidence, or drop the charges altogether.
As the Boston Globe reports, Kraft faces additional litigation in Florida over the state's public records law, which would allow for the footage to be released anyway, as is common in most criminal cases.
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