Robert Kraft, the 77-year-old billionaire owner of the six-time champion New England Patriots, solicited prostitution in Florida from women exploited by Chinese sex traffickers, according to police.
A spokesman for Kraft said, “We categorically deny that Mr. Kraft engaged in any illegal activity. Because it is a judicial matter, we will not be commenting further,” according to a CNBC article.
If the allegations about Kraft’s sexual exploitations are true, it clearly diminishes the standing of the philanthropist and recipient of an honorary degree from Boston University in 1995.
The charges against Kraft will likely be second-degree misdemeanors. Each count might result in 60 days in jail, yet “nobody ever goes to jail for a first offense of a second-degree misdemeanor,” Valentin Rodriguez, a criminal defense attorney, said in a Boston Globe article.
“It’s in his interest to quickly make this go away,” former federal prosecutor Cynthia Alksne said in a Globe article. “I’m sure it will happen at arraignment, and I would expect he pays a $200 fine and gets out of there.”
The NFL dominates the lives of millions of individuals on Sunday afternoons. The average viewership for a professional football game was 15.6 million as of last October. According to the CNBC article, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said, “The NFL is aware of the ongoing law enforcement matter and will continue to monitor developments.”
The NFL’s Personal Conduct Code states, “Everyone who is part of the league must refrain from ‘conduct detrimental to the integrity of and public confidence in’ the NFL.”
While the NFL shouldn’t judge the merits of the case without having more information, it must be wary of the results. The NFL is more than just a sports organization. It must take a firm stance on the actions of such a prominent team owner when they are revealed.No one is above the rules or regulations of any institution, no matter their position.
So where is the anger surrounding the Kraft story?
Granted, the allegations are alleged, but this shouldn’t prevent people from displaying their disappointment if Kraft indeed engaged in criminal activities. There was and still is plenty of anger surrounding Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the national anthem — where is the anger about sex trafficking and prostitution?
The hypermasculinity surrounding sports certainly contributes to this blindness in judgment. Barstool — a sports and pop culture media organization — is representative of the poor response to the news surrounding Kraft. The president of Barstool went on a Twitter video rant and claimed the allegations were false and part of a larger conspiracy involving NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
In a Barstool article, Jerry Thornton defended Kraft without citing any evidence or denouncing sex trafficking in any way. He wrote, “I’ve taken my side. And once again, I’m standing firmly with Mr. Kraft.”
There is a shirt for sale on Barstool that says “Free Kraft.” Let’s recognize this is a 77-year-old, privileged, white billionaire. Surely there are more important people that need to be “freed” from wrongful accusations.
Kraft didn’t just allegedly engage in prostitution two times. He, allegedly, contributed to a ring of sex trafficking. We should all be outraged about that.