What I’m Hearing: TCPalm reporter Will Greenlee has the latest on whether or not New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft could dodge the solicitation charges currently facing him.
PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft has requested a jury trial in connection with the two prostitution-related charges he’s facing, according to records filed Tuesday.
Kraft, 77, is facing two misdemeanor charges after Jupiter, Florida, police say he was one of more than a dozen men who paid for sex acts at Orchids of Asia Day Spa.
Kraft, who previously filed a not guilty plea, had been scheduled for an arraignment hearing Thursday, but his attorney, Jack Goldberger, filed a waiver of arraignment, according to Palm Beach County Clerk’s records. He previously requested a bench trial, meaning a judge would issue a verdict in the case.
The switch to a jury trial is likely an indicator that plea negotiations haven’t progressed, former assistant U.S. Attorney David S. Weinstein told USA TODAY.
“The first deal was unacceptable, so now they are going the more traditional route,” said Weinstein, a partner at Hinshaw & Culbertson. “That includes a jury trial instead of a bench trial.”
“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,” Kraft said in a written statement.
He said he had wanted to speak out previously, but he didn’t in deference to the judicial process.
KRAFT’S LIFE: Patriots owner led eccentric life before spa scandal
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“Throughout my life I’ve tried to do the right thing,” Kraft said. “The last thing I would ever want to do was to 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 Hiatt Kraft, died in 2011 from ovarian cancer at age 68.
Kraft is subject to the NFL’s personal conduct policy and could face consequences – including suspension – even if he’s not ultimately convicted.
“Everyone who is part of the league must refrain from ‘conduct detrimental to the integrity of and public confidence in’ the NFL,” the policy states. “This includes owners, coaches, players, other team employees, game officials, and employees of the league office, NFL Films, NFL Network, or any other NFL business.”
The NFL typically lets the legal process run its course before deciding on sanctions under the personal conduct policy.
“We are seeking a full understanding of the facts, while ensuring that we do not interfere with an ongoing law enforcement investigation,” the NFL said in a statement last month. “We will take appropriate action as warranted based on the facts.”
Contributing: A.J. Perez, USA TODAY