Aronberg announces charges. Martin Law Firm weighs in for customers.
Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg announced Monday his office is charging New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and 24 other men with soliciting another to commit prostitution. The charge is a first degree misdemeanor. This is punishable by up to one year in jail, a $5,000 civil penalty, and a mandatory 100 hours of community service and educational program on the negative effects of prostitution and human trafficking.
Meanwhile, A Martin County law firm has filed two emergency petitions. The petitions are looking to block the release of videotapes and customer lists involving several massage spas accused of human trafficking and prostitution last week. Three women are accused of running separate sexual trafficking operations out of local day spas from Jupiter to Hobe Sound.
Five day spas were targeted as a part of the investigation: Cove Day Spa and Therapy Spa in Stuart, Bridge Day Spa and Sequoia Apple Day Spa in Hobe Sound, and Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter. According to Martin County Sheriff William Snyder, investigators uncovered about 100 “johns”, or end-user. They benefited from the “graphic sexual acts” the trafficked women were forced to perform. In their petitions, attorneys Richard Kibbey and Jordan Wagner note the case has drawn national press coverage, in part because of the arrest of Patriots owner Robert Kraft, and state that commentary on this case is at quote “frenzied levels.”
The Martin County Sheriff’s Office and the Jupiter Police Department have said they have photos, videotapes, and audio recordings of the “johns” allegedly engaging in sexual acts with the spa’s masseuses while receiving massages or other spa treatments. The attorneys want the video to not be released to the public, only to the suspect’s lawyers. They also want any customer list to be withheld from the public until that customer is arrested.
STATE ATTORNEY ARONBERG ANNOUNCES
CRIMINAL CHARGES IN PROSTITUTION RING
“WEST PALM BEACH — State Attorney Dave Aronberg announced today that prosecutors have charged 25 individuals with Soliciting Another to Commit Prostitution, pursuant to Sections 796.07(2)(f) and (5)(a)1 of the Florida Statutes. This charge is a First Degree Misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail, a $5,000 civil penalty, and a mandatory 100 hours of community service and educational program on the negative effects of prostitution and human trafficking.
State Attorney Aronberg praised the Jupiter Police Department for its professionalism and success in investigating the alleged prostitution ring over several months. He said that his office also expects to receive filing packets for the two women who have been arrested by Jupiter police for, among other things, Deriving Support from the Proceeds of Prostitution, which is a Second Degree Felony.
“These cases aren’t about any one defendant or any group of defendants,” Aronberg said. “The larger picture, which we must all confront, is the cold reality that many prostitutes in cases like this are victims, often lured into this country with promises of a better life, only to be forced to live and work in a sweatshop or a brothel, subject to force, fraud or coercion.”
These charges begin the court process, with local defendants being mailed a summons to appear in court. Out of county defendants will have a capias issued – which is essentially a low-level warrant – and will have to either surrender or have an attorney contact law enforcement to satisfy the warrant. The Clerk’s office will publicly release court dates for those receiving a summons. The names of all defendants have been released by the Jupiter Police Department.
Noting that his office works closely with the FBI and the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office on a Human Trafficking Task Force to investigate and prosecute “modern-day slavery,” Aronberg said that “human trafficking often occurs in plain sight, which is why I am hopeful that these cases will encourage people to say something if they see something, and for victims of this underreported crime to gain the courage to speak up and let their voices be heard.”