(PALM BEACH, Fla.) — Robert Kraft, the owner of the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, is planning to reject a deferred prosecution agreement that would not require him to plead guilty to any charges surrounding his visits to a Florida spa in January that was under investigation for sex trafficking and prostitution, a source close to Kraft told ABC News on Wednesday.
The decision to reject the deal is consistent with Kraft’s only public comment about his visits to the spa.
When his name first surfaced last month in connection with the investigation, his spokeswoman, Stacey James, said in a statement that “[w]e categorically deny that Mr. Kraft engaged in any illegal activity.”
Kraft is facing two misdemeanor counts of soliciting prostitution for allegedly visiting the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, Florida on two occasions earlier this year and paying for sexual favors from the massage parlor’s staff.
The Patriots team owner has pleaded not guilty and opted for a non-jury trial before a judge, while assembling a powerhouse team of high-profile Florida criminal defense attorneys.
The proposed pre-trial diversion program would have required Kraft to either acknowledge guilt or admit that he would have been proven guilty at trial, according to the spokesperson for the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office, Mike Edmondson.
While Kraft is currently facing a statutory maximum of one year in jail, if he were to have accepted the plea agreement, the misdemeanor charges would have been dropped.
As part of the statute, Kraft would have had to perform 100 hours of community service, attend a class on the dangers of prostitution and pay a $5,000 fine per count, according to Edmondson.
The deal was offered to Kraft and 24 other men charged in the case. No one has accepted the deal as of Tuesday evening.
The Wall Street Journal first reported news of a proposed deal.
None of Kraft’s three primary defense attorneys immediately responded to a request for comment. A spokeswoman for the Jupiter Police Department, which conducted the investigation, referred requests for comment to the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s office, which did not immediately respond to ABC News.
Even with the charges dropped, Kraft could still face discipline from the National Football League (NFL), which has a strict personal conduct policy.
The policy reads, in part, that “[i]t is not enough simply to avoid being found guilty of a crime. We are all held to a higher standard and must conduct ourselves in a way that is responsible, promotes the values of the NFL, and is lawful.”
Authorities set up hidden cameras at the spa and, Jupiter Police Detective Andrew Sharp said, there’s video evidence of all of the suspects participating in the alleged sexual acts.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has punished Kraft’s Patriots more severely than any other franchise during his tenure, according to ESPN. He fined them $250,000, and coach Bill Belichick $500,000, for spying on an opponent’s defensive signals in 2007. He fined the Patriots $1 million, stripped them of two draft choices and suspended quarterback Tom Brady as part of the 2015 “Deflategate” investigation.
News of the charges being dropped came the same day that a coalition of sexual exploitation and sex trafficking survivor networks wrote a letter calling on Goodell to investigate criminal charges against Kraft and if found to be true to strip him of ownership of the Super Bowl champions franchise, according to a letter released by the coalition on Tuesday.
“If the results of [an NFL] investigation show Mr. Kraft to have engaged in the purchase of women for sex, the NFL must banish Mr. Kraft from team ownership because men who purchase others for sex inflict inestimable amounts of human suffering on those they exploit for sex,” the letter reads, which goes on to call for the sports league to “take immediate action, rigorous measures to create a corporate and sport culture that respects others by rejecting all forms of sexual objectification, harassment, assault, and exploitation of women by owners, coaches, players, team personnel, and others associated with the NFL.”
The NFL’s media representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment from ABC News.
The allegations against Kraft come three weeks after the Patriots beat the Los Angeles Rams to win the team’s sixth Super Bowl title.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of Kraft’s then-NFL record $175 million purchase of the Patriots in 1994.
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