The Boston Globe—hometown newspaper to billionaire Robert Kraft and the NFL team he owns—is no longer among the media outlets intervening in the criminal case against him. Kraft faces two counts of misdemeanor solicitation after he was one of two dozen men charged in a Jupiter, Florida, police investigation into possible prostitution at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa earlier this year. Kraft has pleaded not guilty.
Boston Globe Media Partners, which owns the Globe, was one of nearly 20 news organizations that asked to intervene in the case to fight attempts by Kraft’s lawyers to block the release of police video gathered during the investigation. The newspaper’s motion to withdraw from the case was first reported by the New York Times’s Frances Robles. A search of online court records shows no other media outlets filing similar motions to withdraw.
So why is the Globe withdrawing? The motion doesn’t give a reason. (Update: See below.) It says: “Boston Globe now desires to withdraw as intervenor in this matter. For purposes of clarification, Boston Globe is withdrawing individually and not on behalf of or in conjunction with any other media intervenor.” Each charge against Kraft was filed as a separate case, and the Globe motion was filed in both cases.
As part of the investigation, Jupiter police planted cameras inside the day spa and recorded the men when, authorities say, they received sex acts in return for money. In Kraft’s cases, one video is described in the probable cause affidavit as showing a woman “manipulating Kraft’s penis.” The second video is described as showing a woman who was “manipulating Kraft’s penis and testicles and then put her head down by his penis.”
Palm Beach County Judge Leonard Hanser ruled that the video could be released under Florida’s public record law, but only after a jury was seated or the case was otherwise resolved, so as not to jeopardize Kraft’s right to a fair trial. Nonetheless, it appears likely that Kraft’s lawyers will continue fighting to keep the video blocked from the public.
By withdrawing, the Globe doesn’t forsake its right to get a copy of the video if it is deemed a public record. Still, it’s a weird choice. The Globe is a Boston institution, and one that’s proud of its history of holding the powerful accountable. It’s hard to get more powerful than Kraft, a billionaire who flashes Super Bowl rings, does business across the globe, and is buddies with the president. Asking to see the video seems like a natural step in investigating what Kraft actually did at Orchids of Asia.
Deadspin reached out to Globe editor Brian McGrory asking for an explanation. This post will be updated if he responds.
Update, 5/10, 8:16 a.m.: The Globe issued this statement:
When the Globe joined the motion, authorities were explicit in describing the case as part of a human trafficking investigation. Though the Globe had no intentions to air videos of a sexual nature, we believed it important to push for public access to evidence that, under Florida law, should be placed in the public realm.
Authorities have now said the charges against Robert Kraft are not part of a human trafficking case. While we still have an interest in video from outside the spa, we’ve decided to focus our energy on the famously weak public records laws of Massachusetts. In fact, earlier this week, we argued before the Supreme Judicial Court for the release of thousands of records stemming from secretive court hearings that are shamefully shielded from public view.
The full motion to withdraw is below.