“Sneak and peek” video surveillance in Robert Kraft’s case generates a class action

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A Palm Beach County judge soon will rule on whether to ban the “sneak and peek” video generated during Patriots owner Robert Kraft’s January 2019 visits to a Jupiter, Florida day spa from evidence to be introduced during the trial of his case. In time, a federal judge in Florida will enter judgment, possibly after the return of a massive jury verdict, regarding whether and to what extent this practice violated the privacy rights of individuals whose massages resulted in no sexual activity of any kind.

Last month, an unnamed plaintiff (operating under the standard “John Doe” moniker) filed a class action against the Town of Jupiter Police Department, Detective Andrew Sharp, and district attorney David Aronberg. The plaintiff allegedly visited the Orchids of Asia facility on January 19, 2019, and the class action spans the five days of video surveillance, from January 18 through January 22. The class, which allegedly encompasses at least 31 persons, includes all people who were “videotaped without their knowledge or consent while receiving a lawful massage, and have not been charged with any crime for their patronage of the Spa during the referenced time period.”

The complaint alleges that the police department had obtained “overwhelming evidence that certain masseuses were engaging in low-level prostitution” well before commencing the “sneak and peek” operation, making video surveillance of all customers (including those getting massages without sexual activity) unnecessary. The complaint also alleges that the video generated by the surveillance operation has become, essentially, leverage in the broader effort to obtain plea deals from persons charged with soliciting prostitution, with the potential public release of the videos exacerbating the violation of the privacy rights of persons who received massages and nothing more.

In other words, this lawsuit contends that the effort to end alleged prostitution at the Orchids of Asia day spa went way too far, resulting in video surveillance of individuals who did nothing other than secure a massage. Now, those videos may end up being publicly released, especially since Florida law has sweeping requirements for public disclosure of material generated by police officers in the performance of their duties.

It’s an important angle to what has become a hotly contested criminal case. Kraft’s efforts to expose the failure of the police to follow proper practices has shed light on the potential privacy violations endured by those who were doing nothing that could remotely be characterized as a violation of the law. If the “sneak and peek” operation hadn’t ensnared a defendant with the resources and motivation to fight, these surveillance practices of private citizens may have continued without the kind of scrutiny they are now receiving.

Basically, the police thought they’d landed a big fish in Kraft. As this fight continues, it’s becoming more and more clear that the cops may need a bigger boat.

18 responses to ““Sneak and peek” video surveillance in Robert Kraft’s case generates a class action

  1. I’m glad they are taking the police to task. Only part that sucks is the taxpayers will foot the bill and not the individual police members themselves. They will get away with being lazy.

  2. Yeah, like this is the first time the issue has been litigated in Florida. Problem is there is no punishment for prosecutorial misconduct. This particular case will likely be adjudicated in favor of the victims but if history is any guide, there will be nothing to prevent it from happening again.

  3. If they have a legit masseuse license and you have a documented injury, isn’t that a HIPPA violation to release it? I don’t care what Freedom Of Info act there is. They would have to go through it one by one. That is, IF a licensed masseuse falls under ‘medical care’ rule. This is where I, as a detective would call whatever Law Dept my force has or at least the FDLE. Just braindead stuff. (and I am a retired detective).

    I have muscle issue under my shoulder blade and I get cortisone shots from a Doctor. I could easily go to a masseuse but I use my own machine to work out the knot/problem (cheap, kids are too old to walk on my back).

    This case has so many holes in it, Swiss cheese comes to mind. From the bogus car stops (they are extremely bogus as there are many rules they didn’t abide by), to getting a Judge to sign of on an ‘unwarranted’ surveillance video.

    Yes, the proliferation of these places is rampant and quite obvious in south Florida. Just send in some Undercovers and make arrests. It isn’t rocket science. Or RICO them and wait on the arrests. If it’s trafficking call the FRIGGEN FBI. Hello? State lines? Geez. My head hurts. I don’t know why the Judge didn’t question the state lines/trafficking thing. We did it for weapons but it was also with the aid of the FBI via a taskforce.

    I love and believe in the law enforcement community but you have to play by the rules. You can’t work a case from the top down, like they did here. This jumps out as a political hotcake and was sent downhill with expected results. It really should be the other way around. Assume nothing and start with a good old fashion stakeout.

  4. Kraft wants to expose the police for wrongdoing? Does he really think all this legal maneuvering will change anyone’s opinion as to his guilt? Good luck with that…

  5. backintheday99 says:
    May 7, 2019 at 12:48 pm
    If they have a legit masseuse license and you have a documented injury, isn’t that a HIPPA violation to release it?
    ——————————————

    HIPPA only applies to medical providers and those with routine and legitimate access to your information. While there are plenty of abuses in this case, that isn’t one of them.

  6. So cops illegally taped folks just as fishing and to blackmail them in the absence of evidence. Judge said last week when cops placed cameras they already knew there was no trafficking or evidence of other illegal activity. I kept warning the salty mountain of hate about this, hope they don’t weep all night.

  7. Shocking! The police and prosecutor overstepped their bounds. And water is wet.

  8. Your average person just doesn’t have the resources, knowledge, and support to fight and contest things like this. America doesn’t value privacy because everyone thinks they’re fine because they’re not doing anything wrong.

    Think about what could be going on. A guy went in to get a legit massage and now there’s a chance his name might be plastered all over the internet and the press. His career, his family, and his future may be damaged all because police have no problem violating the rights of others. Law enforcement needs to hold themselves to the highest standards and follow all of the rules, not just ones they want to.

  9. Class action seems like an odd term to use here…. Can’t see how what Bob Kraft did showed any action of class.

  10. “backintheday99 says:
    May 7, 2019 at 12:48 pm
    I love and believe in the law enforcement community but you have to play by the rules.”

    One has to know the rules in order to play by them.
    Please keep in mind this took place in Florida where the skill and knowledge of the police is not bragging material and the “Chief of Police” – the sheriff – is an elected politician. That should say it all.
    One would be hard-pressed to write a better comedy than this conjunction of mistakes.

  11. Good on Bob Kraft for fighting alongside the common man! All hail Kraft! This is a landmark case about rights.

    The county best hope they don’t go bankrupt over this.

  12. I abhor overzealous law enforcement, I hope Kraft and this class action win big. People on here may hate Kraft and his ilk but I would be far more afraid of big brother.

  13. yorkville11 says:
    May 7, 2019 at 1:52 pm
    “backintheday99 says:
    May 7, 2019 at 12:48 pm
    I love and believe in the law enforcement community but you have to play by the rules.”

    One has to know the rules in order to play by them.
    Please keep in mind this took place in Florida where the skill and knowledge of the police is not bragging material and the “Chief of Police” – the sheriff – is an elected politician. That should say it all.
    One would be hard-pressed to write a better comedy than this conjunction of mistakes.
    ———————–

    I agree. I’m not a fan of elected police officials. I also know Florida has some police issues and technically most are Peace officers (no police power outside of their jurisdiction). BUT, Chief of Police is NOT a civil service rank. It’s an appointed position by the Mayor. In the USA, akin to the FBI Director/President. So you can’t win.

    A Sheriff is going to be more prone to political pressure, that is for sure. Beyond the obvious mistakes a seasoned investigation unit would never make during this case, I knew it was a “downhill investigation” because of politics.

    Detective is a promotion financially. It also is not a civil service rank. I was still technically a police officer. It’s based on merit (or who you know). I could easily run a squad of detectives or even a 15/25 man police Dept. Past that, I don’t have the training or experience for much more. I think I’m smart enough but being smart enough also means understanding your limitations.

    So basically, incompetence breeds with who you know or how well you campaign.

    I prefer the Mayor method as I, as a retired detective, could be elected the Sheriff of Broward County but in this lifetime, no Mayor in the USA would appoint me PC.

  14. backintheday99 says:
    If it’s trafficking call the FRIGGEN FBI. Hello? State lines?

    That was the first thing that seemed odd about the original press conference. No Feds.

  15. commentawaitingdeletion says:
    May 7, 2019 at 1:14 pm
    backintheday99 says:
    May 7, 2019 at 12:48 pm
    If they have a legit masseuse license and you have a documented injury, isn’t that a HIPPA violation to release it?
    ——————————————

    HIPPA only applies to medical providers and those with routine and legitimate access to your information. While there are plenty of abuses in this case, that isn’t one of them.

    —————

    Thank you. Again, that is why I the DA, legal depts. and good old fashion research is critical. Not for just those in charge. Things run downhill. You need to be as informed as possible and I didn’t know.

    PS: Wrong in this case? The guys doing the car stops were following an unlawful order. They can get indicted. I really thought every cop in America knew this. It’s Academy 101 stuff. Mind boggling.

    Think of your job/career and what would make you cringe and embarrass you (even though you’re not involved). That’s this case, to me.

  16. “I love it how the Pats Fanboys defend Kraft. ”

    No one is defending Kraft. What the are doing is protesting and speaking out against police misconduct, which is a, you know, violation of our constitutional rights. And I see fans of many teams, not just Pats fans doing so.

    And I love how a Pats hater feels the Constitution and its rights don’t apply to Kraft because you hate the team. Shame on you.

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