By Mark Maske, Washington Post
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, in his first public comments about the prostitution-related charges he faces in Florida, said Saturday he is "truly sorry" and regrets having caused pain and disappointment for those around him.
Kraft made his remarks in a written statement issued to media organizations on the eve of the NFL's annual league meeting in Phoenix.
"I am truly sorry," Kraft said. "I know I have hurt and disappointed my family, my close friends, my co-workers, our fans and many others who rightfully hold me to a higher standard."
Kraft, 77, faces two charges of soliciting a prostitute related to allegations that he twice in January paid female attendants at a massage parlor in Jupiter, Fla., for sex acts. Law enforcement officials have said they have video evidence. Kraft has pleaded not guilty and has a court date scheduled for Thursday.
"Throughout my life, I have always tried to do the right thing," Kraft said. "The last thing I would ever want to do is disrespect another human being. I have extraordinary respect for women; my morals and my soul were shaped by the most wonderful woman, the love of my life, who I was blessed to have as my partner for 50 years."
Kraft said he had remained publicly silent to this point "in deference to the judicial process." He also could face potential disciplinary action by the NFL under its personal conduct policy. That policy applies to owners and empowers NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to impose discipline, if he believes it is warranted, regardless of whether there has been a criminal conviction. The NFL is likely to allow the criminal proceedings to play out before making a disciplinary decision.
Kraft reportedly is expected to attend the league meeting, which runs Sunday through Wednesday. His attorneys have said he will not be required to be in court Thursday.
William Burck, an attorney for Kraft, told ESPN: "There was no human trafficking and law enforcement knows it. The video and the traffic stop were illegal and law enforcement just doesn't want to admit it. The state attorney needs to step up and do the right thing and investigate how the evidence in this case was obtained."
Kraft reportedly plans to reject an offer made by prosecutors to him and other men charged as part of the prostitution stings to avoid criminal convictions in exchange for community service. That plea offer by the Palm Beach County State Attorney's Office would require Kraft and the others to admit they likely would have been found guilty at trial.
The deal also would involve paying court costs, performing 100 hours of community service and attending a class about the dangers of prostitution.
"As I move forward, I hope to continue to use the platform with which I have been blessed to help others and to try to make a difference," Kraft said. "I expect to be judged not by my words, but by my actions. And through those actions, I hope to regain your confidence and respect."