Today, news broke that New England Patriots Owner Robert Kraft is being charged with two counts of solicitation in a prostitution and human-trafficking sting where several “spas” where targeted.
Earlier this year, police say New England Patriots Owner Robert Kraft was filmed receiving sexual services at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, Florida. I think a year from now, Kraft will be filmed sitting in his box seats at the Superbowl, as though nothing happened.
Kraft and about 100 others (so far) are being charged with soliciting prostitution, at least one person was charged with human trafficking, and according to police some women working at the spas are suspected victims of human trafficking. We don’t know for sure if Kraft was serviced by victims of trafficking – and I should therefore mention that while buying sex is illegal in Florida, voluntary sex work and sex trafficking are different things, and Love146 is here to speak only about the latter.
My family are big Boston sports fans. Boston sports talk radio is a fixture in the background of my life, and I know there will be someone on the airwaves saying, “He’s a 77-year-old who lost his wife to cancer; life’s tough. This is no big deal.” Initial reports suggest these were facilities where people were possibly being victimized by traffickers. Whether those he solicited were victims of sex trafficking or not is yet to be seen; though the circumstances reported by police strongly imply it. But as a buyer, Kraft is not “exceptional.” We know from our work that people from all walks of life buy sex, often knowingly or unknowingly from victims of trafficking. Buyers are regular 9-to-5ers, as well as people of influence and means. We’ve heard from kids in our Survivor Care that there are wealthy buyers who’ve had them flown to other states just to exploit them. Well-known “respectable” people in our communities are buying sex from trafficking victims, and if you think it’s not happening near you, you’re wrong. One of the spas implicated in this operation was a few miles from where I grew up in Orlando.
A news station came to our office today and asked our US Programs Director, “To see Kraft charged with a crime here as a buyer, does this send a powerful message?” My coworker said yes. And that was the only thing she said that I disagreed with.
So far, he has been charged with misdemeanors; likely a hand slap. Will this really send a powerful message? Public humiliation isn’t nothing, but it’s not enough.
I have a hunch that next year, my family will be watching the NFL championships again – and just like this year, Kraft will be up there in the box clapping. He’ll probably pay criminal fines that amount to what he might pay for a few nice bottles of wine; another expense in a luxury budget. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell could hold him further accountable, – but still – after watching news unfold for a long-term I would place my bets that by 2020, today’s news won’t be looked at as something that “sent a powerful message.”
I sincerely hope I’m wrong.