Reimer: Releasing Robert Kraft's spa sex tape would be egregious violation of privacy we should all be against


In the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, law enforcement agencies were allowed to expand their use of secret surveillance to combat the war on terror. Over time, these so-called sneak-and-peek warrants, which permit authorities to install cameras on private property without notifying the people under investigation, have been used in additional criminal probes. When police wanted to covertly install cameras inside the Orchids of Asia Day Spa, they emphasized their suspicions about human trafficking in order to convince a judge to sign off on the warrant. That’s exactly what happened, and less than one week after the cameras were positioned, Robert Kraft walked in. Police say they recorded spa workers performing sex acts on the elderly billionaire during each of his two visits.

Ever since Kraft and 24 other johns were charged in late February with soliciting prostitution, Kraft’s high-powered attorneys have been working to suppress the tapes. Last week, in a hearing about whether media companies should receive access to the videos and other evidence in the case, Palm Beach prosecutor Greg Kridos admitted nobody will be charged with human trafficking after all. Meaning, police grossly violated people’s privacy for the sake of busting a prostitution ring. Soliciting prostitution is a misdemeanor charge in Florida and seldom results in jail time. In fact, most first-time offenders get off with just a fine and maybe some community service.

And yet, Florida prosecutors said Wednesday they want to release the tapes anyway. You don’t have to be a Patriots toadie or Kraft apologist to see the blatant privacy rights that are in jeopardy of being violated. 

Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg’s office said in court documents it is mandated under Florida law to release the videos to the public, and he intended to do exactly that barring a judge’s order, the Boston Globe reports. Later, a judge issued an order prohibiting any evidence being released until prosecutors receive clearance from the judiciary. 

Prosecutors say they want to release the tapes in conjunction with the case against spa manager Lei Wang, who is being charged with operating a house of prostitution and is allegedly one of the two women who serviced Kraft. 

“The Public Records Act does not allow a custodian to delay the production of records to allow the resolution of a constitutional challenge to the release of the documents,” the court papers read.

Kraft’s attorneys are accusing the Palm Beach County prosecutor's office of misconduct, according to ESPN. They argue the videos were obtained unlawfully and should be sealed. 

“If the affidavit says what happened, what is the interest the public has in seeing it? It’s basically pornography,” Kraft attorney William Burck said Friday, via the Washington Post

Nobody with a sane mind is denying Kraft went into the seedy day spa twice in 18 hours and paid for sex, as prosecutors allege. This is not an effort to paint Kraft as some sort of victim. But laws are based on precedent, and if police are allowed to invoke the Patriot Act to build cases against people accused of committing misdemeanors, then that’s scary for all of us –– whether you own an NFL franchise or nothing more than a bed and some socks. 

In that respect, this case is analogous to the Donald Sterling controversy some years ago. While Sterling’s racism is contemptible, there's something chilling about a person getting secretly recorded in his own home by an aggrieved party, and then having those tapes used against him. Sterling may not have been worth defending, but his privacy was.

Ironically, though Kraft’s lawyers argue releasing the tapes would cause “irreparable harm” to their client, he would probably experience the least tangible damage out of any of the johns. Sure, it would be embarrassing, but his finances wouldn’t suffer and he almost certainly would still be allowed to own the Patriots. Judging by the support Kraft has gotten from billionaire pals like Sixers co-owner Michael Rubin and the rousing ovation he received at the Garden over the weekend, his public standing among friends and admirers likely wouldn’t be affected, either.

The same can’t be said for the other 24 guys, most of whom are probably husbands, fathers, and just regular people. Imagine the damage it would inflict upon your life if a sex tape of yours was available on some public database.

The people have a right to see evidence that’s used in criminal cases. But this video evidence, by all accounts, was obtained under false pretenses. Releasing it would be an egregious abuse of police power, regardless of how much comeuppance Kraft may deserve. 

This post has been updated.