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Robert Kraft pleads not guilty; Requests jury trial

(Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

WEST PALM BEACH, Fl. — Attorneys for New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft have filed paperwork with a plea of not guilty and requesting a jury trial.

Kraft has been charged with two counts of misdemeanor solicitation of prostitution.

Kraft is one of about 300 men charged between Palm Beach and Orlando as part of a crackdown on illicit massage parlors and human trafficking. Ten parlors have closed and employees have also been charged. Many of the women are originally from China and were forced to live in the spas and not allowed to leave without an escort, according to investigators.

This week, attorneys for 77-year-old Kraft and other men charged in multiple Florida counties asked a judge to block the release of video recordings that police say show them engaging in sexual acts. The Associated Press is part of a media coalition trying to get the evidence in the case released.

Prosecutors have offered to drop the charges if Kraft and the men enter a diversion program for first-time offenders. That would include an admission they would be found guilty if their case went to trial, a $5,000 fine, 100 hours of community service and attendance in a class on the dangers of prostitution and its connection to human trafficking. They would also have to make a court appearance and be tested for sexually transmitted diseases.

Attorneys representing other defendants told the AP their clients won’t accept the offer because it is much tougher than what is offered in other Palm Beach County solicitation cases.

Kraft has an arraignment court hearing scheduled Thursday, though he is not expected to appear in person.

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