If Robert Kraft is exonerated, what happens next?

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As Patriots owner Robert Kraft moves toward the potential dismissal of pending solicitation of prostitution charges or (if the case actually goes to trial with most if not all of the key evidence against him suppressed) an acquittal, an important question looms.

What will the NFL do to Kraft?

It will be a delicate issue, given the league’s aggressive treatment of players who were never arrested or charged and the refrain that owners are held to a higher standard than players. But an examination of the plain language of the Personal Conduct Policy makes it difficult to find the basis for a violation, absent sufficient evidence under the league’s reduced standard that solicitation of prostitution occurred.

Without sufficient evidence of solicitation, Kraft at most engaged in consensual sexual activity in a private place that became not private because police were conducting an overly broad “sneak and peek” surveillance operation. Thus, without sufficient evidence of solicitation, what would the violation be? Although the policy speaks broadly in terms of integrity and character and values, consensual sexual activity is not prohibited.

Even if there were sufficient evidence of solicitation, it would be difficult to match the behavior to one of the 13 specific examples of prohibited conduct contained in the Personal Conduct Policy. The closest bullet point from the policy would be this one: “Assault and/or battery, including sexual assault or other sex offenses.”

Even then, the phrase “other sex offenses” appears as an example in the category of “assault and/or battery,” which arguably indicates that the bullet point in question encompasses only those “sex offenses” that would relate to an assault and/or battery.

The best argument for discipline, if there is sufficient evidence of solicitation, comes from the final bullet point contained in the policy, a catch-all that prohibits “[c]onduct that undermines or puts at risk the integrity of the NFL, NFL clubs, or NFL personnel.” There, the question becomes whether solicitation of prostitution “undermines or puts at risk the integrity” of the league, its teams, and league personnel.

Even if solicitation of prostitution amounts to a violation of the Personal Conduct Policy, the league would have to prove that solicitation happened. How would the league do that? If Kraft denies that he solicited sexual favors (in other words, that he promised specific payment of money for sex in advance of sex being provided), how would the league show that he did it? The video — which may never be available at all to the league — proves that sexual activity happened; it doesn’t prove the sex was solicited. Absent cooperation from the person who performed the sexual favors, the league could have a very difficult time finding that solicitation happened.

Think of it this way. If a player were exonerated of solicitation under these same facts, he’d most likely face no discipline at all. But that important point would quickly become lost in the cacophony of players, fans, and media calling for discipline given that players have been disciplined without ever being arrested or charged. However, those players (e.g., Ezekiel Elliott and Kareem Hunt) were accused of engaging in misconduct involving violence. Kraft faces no such allegations.

Then again, he’s an owner and the league likes to say that owners are held to a higher standard. Still, what is the higher standard for an owner when the standard for a player in an identical situation would result in no discipline?

That eventually will be the biggest challenge for the Commissioner, whose past zeal when it comes to disciplining players who never faced criminal jeopardy will make it very difficult to sell to the players and to the public a literal interpretation and application of the relevant rules when it comes to an owner who technically may not have done enough to violate the policy, but who as a practical matter may not be able to escape the P.R. underpinnings of the Personal Conduct Policy.

And that’s typically how it works. Regardless of what the policy provides, the league does what it wants in order to accomplish that which it thinks it needs in order to advance the league’s P.R. interests. So even if Kraft could make a persuasive and compelling argument that the Personal Conduct Policy does not apply in cases of this nature, the league will try to find a way to discipline him, if the league believes that discipline is necessary to avoid an inevitable storm of bad press.

101 responses to “If Robert Kraft is exonerated, what happens next?

  1. Will the NFL demand that Kraft and his lawyers produce the video to them, even if the judge seals everything from public disclosure?

  2. Would the other owners really want to set this precedent – an owner being charged for a misdemeanor and then cleared, but then punished by the league? Seems like a very slippery slope.

  3. And when it’s all said and done, people are going to cite human trafficking for the next decade when referring to this case despite the fact that we all know human trafficking was never part of this

  4. This is an easy one. You punish him. His behavior has directly damaged the NFL brand. He was there, he had sex in a massage parlor – no one disputes it.

    Just because you have good lawyers on retainer, access to loopholes, or your GF decides not to press charges – you have still damaged the brand.

  5. Lets keep in mind – the video will be released – whether legally or illegally….this guy and the humiliation – has just begun!

  6. If Goodell lets him off or gives him a slap on the wrist the players will go nuts over the double standard. Kraft is going to have to take his lumps and like it….

  7. An owner getting suspended is not the same as a player. It’s just sending a message. What happens, he gets no camera time cheering from his box? Further embarrassment perhaps, but I think he’s already humiliated himself enough. Not even close to offsetting all he’s done for the franchise and the community.

  8. A lot has been written about something that isn’t the business of anyone other than Kraft and the woman. This is simply the law once again trying to dictate morals. Legalize this and you will see the crime element go away and it will be safer for everyone.

  9. I have a good idea. Let the whole thing play out instead of speculating about, on a daily basis, what MIGHT happen. Not saying the video taping was right or wrong, but it was only one item of evidence. Some of the women have taken plea deals. Who knows what those deals include?? They may include giving testimomy about who did what and when. Long and short, as far add the league is concerned, BK made a public statement basically admitting what happened. How the league interprets that is anybody’s guess. At this point, you might as well be throwing darts.

  10. What happens next is that the New England Patriots will win the Super Bowl…What do you mean what happens next?

  11. He’s not claiming he didn’t do it. He just doesn’t want you to see the proof he did.

  12. Guilty in the public eye. All that matters is his image for the NFL is not so good.

  13. In nearly every case where a player is disciplined without ever being charged or arrested the alleged ‘victim’ makes an accusation and then threatens to file for relief in civil court. So it is at least a he said/she said situation.

    In Kraft’s case there is no one claiming to be the victim of his alleged solicitation. So if the spa owner does not raise a claim that Kraft broke the law, and the police ‘evidence’ is apparently being considered tainted, he will walk free and the NFL will not even have an allegation to base any discipline on.

  14. I believe Goodell has to suspend Kraft on this one anyway. This will be an interesting scenario for him to deal with because it would have been much easier on him if Kraft wasn’t about to be exonerated. The old Goodell would look the other way—not anymore.

  15. bucfaninclearwater says:
    May 16, 2019 at 8:58 pm
    He has the complexion for protection, nothing happens.

    ==================

    So did Von Miller recently, it seems…

    The “complexion” is green – as in, greenbacks.

  16. Let him walk, it’s all no big deal without the trafficking. Stop wasting time and move on.

  17. If a tree falls in the forest (without a video)………does it still make a noise??? 🤑🤑🤑

  18. Kraft is being charged with a Misdemeanor, if its thrown out, then move on. Even if its not thrown out, why do people care so much. ITS A MISDEMEANOR!

  19. Goodell has said before,.. it’s not a matter of civil law,… it’s about NFL Conduct Code.
    Unless Kraft has one helluva explanation,….. he should be fined,… suspended,… and maybe look at his stature on committees.

  20. What he did was embarrassing enough but not as Bad at what Colts owner did.He was suspected 6 games and fined 500 thousand for Driving Drunk and having drugs on him.My opinion suspended him 4 Games and 500 thousand The fine donates
    to a charity and move.

  21. Kraft is fined $250,000-500,000 (oh my, how will he pay that fine?), he is “suspended” 2-6 games (oh my, how will the Pats survive that suspension?), and the Pats win Super Bowl LIV in February 2020.

    Rinse, repeat.

  22. He’s not exonerated Kraft just had the money to suppress evidence. He’s still a guilty low life in the public eye but the league likely will do nothing.

  23. Yet the same haters say “legalize weed, what people do in their own life is nobody’s business if it doesn’t hurt anyone else”. It tarnished the shield they say, really. How? Do you know how many groupies follow these rich players /owners around?.Suspend everyone that cheats on their wife if that’s the case, the NFL has an image to uphold.

  24. Given the hypothetical that the 2 charges of solicitation are dismissed there is nothing the Commissioner can do. Stretching the leagues policy or the Commissioners possible desire to discipline Kraft is supposition which is what journalists use these days; may, could, should, would, possibly etc. The NY Times, Yahoo News, Huff Post and Daily Beast use supposition to provoke thought and interest in today’s political arena. It’s not against the law to get a massage at a health spa or club. One can not be presumed to have illegal intentions. In the most up scale health club facilities one is asked by a licensed massage therapist to take all their clothes off with a towel only being placed on the massage patron. When turning over is required the therapist lifts up the towel and one turns over. There is no sex involved and the massage is therapy for sore muscles! Assuming possible illegal intentions becomes a very dangerous place for our society.

  25. “If a player were exonerated of solicitation under these same facts, he’d most likely face no discipline at all.”
    ——————————

    No player has ever been fined/suspended for solicitation, even if found guilty. Strange how the media never reports that FACT, but likes to speculate the punishment Kraft would receive.

    Solicitation is a MISDEMEANOR charge – similar to petty theft, trepassing, and in some states, possession of weed. No NFL employee has ever been fined/suspended for a misdemeanor crime and would be unfair that an owner be punished for something players get away with regularly.

  26. Kraft is cited on a misdemeanour
    Irsay had multiple FELONIES

    You think the two are equal? Hope you never get a jaywalking ticket…………

    =======================
    jonathankrobinson424 says:
    May 16, 2019 at 9:33 pm
    Give him whatever they gave Jim Irsay and let’s be done with already.

  27. As we all know evidence or lack of means nothing to the NFL.
    Suspend him 16 games, take a few draft picks, fine him 1,000,000$.

    Go ahead…….poke the bear………we all know what happens next.

    7

  28. exonerated? lol no. just because he has the money to fight it does not mean he is innocent. rich guy buys his way out of trouble. a tale as old as time.

  29. I would think since he is not denying he was there for his personal reasons and it is a misdemeanor, a 1 game suspension and a big fine seems fair.

    What a disturbing world we live in that successful people are held to much higher standards over misdemeanors and are defamed upfront for no reason at the forefront to make money off of these people’s names.

    Disgusting.

    The Jupiter Police Chief should be fired and the DA needs to resign immediately.

    Kraft has a lot of ammo to sue here, IMO and I would. The framing and lying about the Pats every move, simply has to stop.

  30. exinsidetrader says:
    May 17, 2019 at 6:48 am
    A Prosecutor and some police need to be FIRED for abuse of the public trust.

    18 1 Rate This

    ———————————

    100%

  31. savethebs says:
    May 17, 2019 at 9:17 am
    exonerated? lol no. just because he has the money to fight it does not mean he is innocent. rich guy buys his way out of trouble. a tale as old as time.

    ————-

    Pointing at money is nonsense in this case. The Police were caught illegally recording people in these spas. The first ruling that came in was in a different county and had nothing to do with Kraft. The NFL won’t be able to punish him either because there won’t be any evidence of wrong doing and the police were ruled to have acted illegally. What are they going to punish him for? Going to the spa would be the only thing. Even if he had accepted the plea deal for the charges to be dropped he would have been barely punished.

  32. officialgame says:
    May 17, 2019 at 6:51 am
    He’s not exonerated Kraft just had the money to suppress evidence. He’s still a guilty low life in the public eye but the league likely will do nothing.

    ————–

    That’s not what happened. That’s what you decided in your mind. A different county threw out this evidence before Kraft did anything. This judge was just following suit. The police over stepped.

    As for the low life comment, I think if you look at what Kraft has done in his life vs this minor indiscretion I would say there aren’t too many people that should be taking the moral high ground. Kraft has done a lot of good for a lot of people in the world.

  33. exinsidetrader says:
    “..A Prosecutor and some police need to be FIRED for abuse of the public trust…”

    By all means, let’s just totally ignore the crime and instead look for loopholes to blame the cops for all of this.
    God Bless America.

  34. #The-Best-Fans-in-the-NFL says:
    May 16, 2019 at 11:37 pm
    Goodell has said before,.. it’s not a matter of civil law,… it’s about NFL Conduct Code.
    Unless Kraft has one helluva explanation,….. he should be fined,… suspended,… and maybe look at his stature on committees.

    ————

    Did you read the article above? There’s nothing in the code of conduct that covers this. Plus, he was filmed illegally by police. If a player proved the police illegally filmed them they would not be punished either. Zero chance he is punished in my mind as long as the court case continues the way it is currently.

  35. SparkyGump says:
    May 16, 2019 at 10:06 pm
    What did we find out? Our legal system favors the wealthy. We also found out that ol’ Karfty is just as human as the rest of us.

    ———–

    You mean like when they offered to drop the charges for most of the people involved. Was that because they were all wealthy? Or when the other county ruled that the recording was illegal? Was that because someone is wealthy?

  36. gavinmac says:
    May 16, 2019 at 8:56 pm
    Will the NFL demand that Kraft and his lawyers produce the video to them, even if the judge seals everything from public disclosure?

    ————

    A video that was recorded in private illegally by police? No.

  37. They keep doing the wrong thing because they stick their finger in the air and try to determine which way the winds of public opinion are blowing. That is no way make or enforce a discipline policy. What they should do is look at the allegation and make a call on whether it is credible. If it’s not, do nothing until it begins to look credible. At that point, the league should determine the “potential damage to the shield” and use the Commissioner’s exempt list if the league believes damage is being done. That continues to pay the player/employee/owner who as of yet is still presumed innocent. Once the legal process has run its course, then the league should quickly remove the person from the exempt list, make a disciplinary call and either drop it or hand out discipline. There is no reason for the league to conduct a month’s long fake investigation while waiting for the public fervor to die down or new incidents/evidence to happen in order to justify the discipline they were afraid to do in the first place.

  38. Roethlisberger was suspended for 6 games after not being charged with any crime because he “tarnished the shield”.
    There is quite a precedent for players being subjected to suspensions with no legal charges being levied. Owners should be no different.

  39. It’s a freakin misdemeanor. Why is this even newsworthy? The Feds were wrong and there was no human trafficking going on in the place and now they are trying to save face over a freakin misdemeanor. What a complete waste of time.

  40. If I were Kraft I’d step down as owner and turn it over to his sons. Why go through another round of negative publicity. It’s in the best interest of the league seeing as how the Pats play a lot of nationally televised games. If he’s under suspension it’s going to come up at every game and just prolongs the very reason they would penalize him – tarnishing the shield.

  41. Any other owner, the same thing happens (he/she gets off on the charges to protect the sheild), with perhaps one important distinction/exception:

    There wouldn’t be so many of the teams faithful fans willingly turning a blind eye to such behavior, wanting this swept under the rug by any means necessary. Appears that winning often changes people and their attitudes (Don’t believe me? Just play monopoly with your best friends and see how the ‘winner’ acts).

    Appears we have re-entered the era of ‘Ends justifies the means’ (a situation in which the final aim is so important that any way of achieving it is acceptable).

    This is the MO of this team since the first three SB*, deflategate (breaking the phone) and now massagegate, just give the fams a trophy and they’ll forgive anything.

    Now, I suppose that we have to listen to how the Pats lawyers were so much smarter than everyone else too.
    Thanks Roger.

  42. Everyone knows he did it, everyone knows it was a minor criminal violation, everyone knows the whole thing is pretty pathetic — the damage is done. To a guy like Kraft, reputation and public goodwill are more important than a fine and probation. that’s been forever tarnished for all but die hard Pats fans, so why bother with more punishment?

  43. Andrew Teal says:
    May 16, 2019 at 9:35 pm
    He’s not claiming he didn’t do it. He just doesn’t want you to see the proof he did.
    ———————————————————————————-

    Ummm yes he is…

    Although he issued an apologetic statement back in March, Kraft has consistently maintained his innocence, refusing to accept a plea deal offered by the prosecution that would have required him to admit that a jury could have found him guilty had the case went to trial.

  44. The high priced lawyer tricks won’t work on Goodell. It will be interesting to see if Kraft is punished whether he goes to court, since he refused do do that for Brady.

  45. What happens next if he’s exonerated?

    The most bizarre and hilarious “I’m going to Disneyland!” commercial in the history of the world.

  46. If a player wouldn’t get punished, I don’t think Kraft should be, but knowing Goodell’s having 1 rule for the Pats and 1 rule for the other 31 teams… I think Goodell should just give the man the largest fine, and move on already, and close this chapter.

  47. The NFL will give him a slap on the wrist, just like they did with Irsay and his car load of illegal drugs.

  48. Suspend him for a full season from any NFL related activities from the start of training camp till the end of the Super Bowl. As a owner they should be held a bit more accountable because unlike players they can’t just get cut from their teams.

  49. julian79rn4l says:
    May 17, 2019 at 2:43 pm
    Suspend him for a full season from any NFL related activities from the start of training camp till the end of the Super Bowl. As a owner they should be held a bit more accountable because unlike players they can’t just get cut from their teams.

    ——————

    That’s what you call “a bit more accountable”? LOL!

  50. A lot of people here are disappointed they won’t get to watch the video. Why is that?

  51. gavinmac says:
    May 16, 2019 at 8:56 pm
    Will the NFL demand that Kraft and his lawyers produce the video to them, even if the judge seals everything from public disclosure?

    ————————-
    Kraft and his lawyers are not the holders of the video.

  52. The truth is that nothing more will happen after that. It would be pointless if it did. The only thing out of this that ever could have happened to hurt Kraft was embarrassment and tarnishing of his reputation and that has actually happened a ton and he cant change that. He got what is to a guy like him the worst punishment possible right up front with that first press conference by the cops.

  53. annapterp says:
    May 17, 2019 at 10:59 am
    It’s a freakin misdemeanor. Why is this even newsworthy? The Feds were wrong and there was no human trafficking going on in the place and now they are trying to save face over a freakin misdemeanor. What a complete waste of time.
    ______________________________
    BTW…It wasn’t the FEDS that were wrong it was the local LEO’s that were wrong, and over stepped the law…As soon as the FBI looked at what was going on they bailed. There was no way the FEDS were going to let themselves get caught up in this mess!

  54. If they would change the law to make prostitution legal things like this wouldnt happen and thousands of lonely men in the USA like Kraft could seek female companionship legally.it would put women to work and pay state and federal taxes.having sex shouldnt be for married men only.

  55. Don’t you think Kraft already has his attorneys working on the battle vs the NFL once they get the Florida case expunged? By the way, I recommend he expunge in the privacy of his own home going forward.

  56. If I’m him first order of business Is finding a more discreet “massage” parlor

  57. Wouldn’t it be a good idea to see the outcome of the prosecution’s appeal before proclaiming how Kraft should be treated?

  58. “Even if solicitation of prostitution amounts to a violation of the Personal Conduct Policy, the league would have to prove that solicitation happened. How would the league do that?” Ummm… what did they “prove” in the zeke Elliot case? The idea that the league needs to prove anything prior to punishment is pretty antiquated. Roger does what he wants.

  59. What he did was illegal in the state of Florida.

    He broke the law.

    Have him pick up trash on a highway, and video tape it.

    I would watch that! 🙂

  60. He won’t be exonerated. He may not be convicted in a court of law, beyond a reasonable doubt, but he ultimately has been convicted in the public eye. Does anyone really think he didn’t break the law and pay for sex? The NFL will have to address this once the legal proceedings end. Even if found not guilty or the charges are dropped, he will need to be disciplined by the NFL.

  61. officialgame says:
    May 17, 2019 at 6:51 am
    He’s not exonerated Kraft just had the money to suppress evidence. He’s still a guilty low life in the public eye but the league likely will do nothing.

    ——————

    Low life for one thing but all the other things that he has done, and will do in the future, are somehow meaningless?

    Let he who is without sin…

  62. Exoneration:
    the action of officially absolving someone from blame; vindication.
    So what happens next? We move onto the next prosecutorial over reach, that’s what. Prosecutors in the business of promoting themselves and pooh poohing actual law are the worst kind of criminal.

  63. He should be thoroughly embarrassed at going to a shopping center, in a chauffeur driven Bentley.
    With his money he could do a little better.
    The NFL should treat him like everyone else, he’s no different to a player.
    Just because he has money shouldn’t exonerate him.

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