ESPN's T.J. Quinn tells M&C Kraft's decision to fight prostitution charges probably depends on whether he can get video sealed

Alex Reimer
March 20, 2019 - 10:45 am

The deciding factor in whether Robert Kraft fights his solicitation of prostitution charges might come down to whether he can seal the video. In an interview Wednesday with M&C, ESPN investigative reporter T.J. Quinn says Kraft’s attorneys will do all they can to ensure the video never gets released. If a judge agrees to seal it, then the prosecution’s biggest leverage is gone.

“The biggest risk of (going to trial) would be the release of the video,” Quinn said. “So that’s why I think, at the same time, they should be filing their own motion to suppress that evidence outside of this diversion deal. If they cut a deal, the evidence is sealed. That’s not to say it will never get out. People copy things, it happens. Somebody might get an offer, and there’s not a whole lot you can do to prevent that, other than try to buy the copies yourself. But that means the government would not release it legally, which right now under Florida law, it appears they could. So that is the leverage against them, and he’s going to try to take away that leverage.”

Prosecutors offered Kraft a deal this week that would expunge his charges if he admits he would’ve been found guilty in a court of law. Quinn tweeted the diversion program offer is currently a “non-starter” for the Patriots’ owner.

But from a public relations standpoint, releasing any video of Kraft receiving sexual services from spa workers, which police say they possess, would inarguably be more damaging to him than any legal outcome. That’s why Quinn says Kraft recently hired three high-powered defenses attorneys, including Jeffrey Epstein’s lawyer. Kraft wants to ensure the alleged tapes never get out, even illegally.

“Even if you are rock solid in your case, you’re going to have an onslaught, you’re going to have to dig very deep, and you have a guy with unlimited resources who’s willing to fight this legally and go after anybody,” Quinn said. “Can you imagine the investigation (Kraft) would have to find out if somebody leaked that video? There is a clear attempt at a chilling effect here.”

Given the prosecution’s original vigor when announcing the charges against Kraft and roughly 200 other johns ensnared in this alleged prostitution and human trafficking ring, Quinn says it is surprising they’re willing to offer this kind of deal. But he also mentioned this is potentially just one step in a longer negotiation.

“It was a surprise the government was wiling to do this. When we first talked to prosecutors, they were as confident as you could be in the evidence they had. There didn’t seem to be a discussion of this diversion program on the table,” Quinn said. “So that was a bit of a surprise. But it’s a negotiation, like any plea deal. The government makes any offer –– ‘do this’ –– and it lets them come and say, ‘This was a legitimate investigation and prosecution.’ But I was told Kraft feels, and I don’t know exactly what advice he’s getting, that he’d rather fight it than accept a deal where he’s admitting some sort of culpability.”

Another motivation for Kraft to fight the charges is whether legal exoneration could impact Roger Goodell’s decision on how severely to sanction the mogul.

“I think what’s clear is (Kraft) wants to say, ‘I didn’t do anything wrong; I didn’t commit a crime,’” Quinn said. “Then he can go to Roger Goodell and say, ‘Whatever you want to do to me, I didn’t commit a crime.’ He is not, from anything I’ve heard, disputing the facts of what happened. What he’s disputing is whether or not it was illegal. And what they really want to make sure is, I think they want people to stop mention trafficking and Bob Kraft in the same sentence. That’s the part that really gets to them. And he’s got some leg to stand on when it comes to that. When we looked at the women he was with on those two days, it doesn’t seem like they were trafficked. Both of them were licensed, both of them were older. So you’ve got the public relations side of it, and then the legal side of it, which is a fine point. You hear a lot of people semi-involved in this case saying, ‘Just take the misdemeanor charge. It doesn’t mean anything.’ But others are saying, ‘This is ridiculous, they shouldn’t have taken up this case, and you should fight it as best as you can.’