When prosecutors in Florida announced last month they had busted several massage parlors on Florida’s Treasure Coast, one that ensnared New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, they described the probe as a “human trafficking investigation.”
Much of the subsequent commentary went on to state that penalties against Kraft by his fellow NFL owners should be severe, due to the human trafficking angle.
But now, nearly a month later, no human trafficking charges have been filed against Kraft or anyone else charged in the sting, per TMZ Sports.
That applies to Kraft, who faces two counts of solicitation, as well as the other 25 johns in the sting as well as the four people who operated the establishments. In addition, citing sources, TMZ said that “prosecutors have seen ZERO evidence of human trafficking to this point,” and no federal agencies got involved with the sting because they had not seen any evidence of trafficking.
At the time of the arrests, law enforcement used the phrase “human trafficking ring” numerous times. More charges are possible in the case, the site said.
“Our concern in this investigation centers around victims of human trafficking,” Jupiter Police Chief Daniel Kerr said at the time, per South Coast Today. According to an ESPN report a couple of weeks after the sting, the two women “associated with” Kraft were probably not trafficked, as one was 40-years-old and the other was 58 and both have valid massage licenses in the state of Florida.
A hearing on Kraft’s charges is scheduled for March 28, although the 77-year-old Kraft is not expected to appear in court, The Boston Globe reported this week.
Kevin McGil, a defense attorney in Florida who sometimes represents those accused in such stings, told The Miami Herald last year that “cops are not stopping human trafficking by arresting Asian girls giving ‘handies’ in massage parlors. They’re not stopping human trafficking by arresting johns. They should be targeting organizations that are truly forcing girls to work against their will.”
The Herald piece also said that law enforcement often has a difficult time proving human trafficking cases.
The NFL has frequently participated in efforts to combat human trafficking at the Super Bowl each year, often teaming up with law enforcement in the Super Bowl host city to combat it. However, per CNN, many experts have questioned whether there really is any surge in human trafficking at that annual event.