A Florida judge on Monday again temporarily blocked release of surveillance video related to the solicitation case of New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft.
Palm Beach County Judge Joseph Marx ruled to seal video and audio recordings gathered as evidence in the case against Kraft and 24 other men who are charged with paying for sex at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, Fla.
Attorneys for spa manager Lei Wang on April 18 had asked a judge to hold the Palm Beach County state attorney office and Jupiter police in contempt of court after reports surfaced that the video had leaked and was being offered for sale.
At that time, Marx temporarily halted release of the videos of Kraft and the other men. On Monday, Marx again blocked the release of the video. But officials said they also are confident the video has not been leaked.
Wang and spa owner Hua Zhang face several counts related to prostitution. Both have pleaded not guilty.
Also on Monday, attorneys for Kraft were back in court and filed an emergency motion asking prosecutors to turn over any “favorable” information they have from the investigation. That motion comes ahead of a Tuesday hearing Kraft’s attorneys have with Circuit Court Judge Leonard Hanser over admissibility of the video evidence.
Hanser also had previously ruled to temporarily block release of the video, but has said that once any threats to a fair trial have passed, the video might be released.
Florida has some of the country’s most broad open-records laws, and prosecutors have said they intend to release the video as soon as possible because state law compels them to do so. Several media outlets, including ESPN, had filed a motion for release of the video.
Kraft has pleaded not guilty to two misdemeanor counts of soliciting prostitution.
While his attorneys have been successful in temporarily keeping the surveillance video out of public view, he could put an end to the case by agreeing to a diversion agreement offered by state prosecutors in March.
The deal would allow Kraft and the other defendants to have their records expunged and the evidence permanently sealed, with the condition that Kraft and the others would have to admit that had the case gone to court, they would have lost.
Kraft’s representatives have said he refuses to admit he committed a crime and will continue to fight the misdemeanor charges.