WHEN IT COMES TO his involvement with the Orchids of Asia Day Spa, it looks like Robert Kraft is going to get off again.
With the best legal defense money can buy, the billionaire owner of the New England Patriots brought a sledgehammer to the pesky fly that was the local state prosecutors’ operation and got a Florida judge to throw out use of any video surveillance recordings in the misdemeanor case against him for soliciting the services of a prostitute. Most legal observers say the ruling all but kills the case against Kraft.
But before he spikes the ball in the end zone, Kraft must still face a reckoning for his deeds, even if it’s not inside a courtroom. To glance at Boston’s two daily papers this morning is to understand there are two parallel universes where that judgment awaits.
Globe columnist Adrian Walker focuses on the court of public opinion. “If Kraft really wants his reputation back, he has work to do,” he writes. “He should deliver a full-throated apology for participating, however unwittingly, in exploitation.” Walker goes on to say Kraft should throw himself and his checkbook at the work he’s done to combat human trafficking. “He should display genuine public remorse,” he says.
Walker acknowledges that not everyone is waiting for a demonstration of true contrition. “Most Patriots fans don’t seem to care what Kraft did or didn’t do, which is a bit sad,” he writes.
It’s hard to know whether to put Herald sports writer Karen Guregian in that camp or not.
She zeroes in on the judgment that awaits Kraft at the hands of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who has vowed to make a determination of what the league might do once all the dust settles, with a criminal conviction not necessary to hand out a tough fine or suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy. But by framing the issue as simply the next chapter in the long-running grudge match between Goodell and Kraft that includes the famous “deflategate” controversy, Guregian doesn’t exactly vouch for the integrity of whatever ruling awaits the Patriots owner.
“It’s hard to believe Kraft will walk away from Roger Goodell’s kangaroo court totally unscathed,” she writes, suggesting something short of blind justice is in store for the team owner.
If a suspension is in the mix and Kraft is banned from the team’s home opener — and raising of the Pats’ sixth Super Bowl champion banner — Guregian imagines the team bringing Kraft to the festivities from his home by showing him on big video screens at either end zone. That would set off whoops and hollers at Gillette Stadium that make the reception Kraft got when he showed up at Celtics game last month sound like golf clap.
Still, Guregian lays out the curious challenge facing Kraft to try to close this unwelcome chapter in his championship story. He “categorically” denied taking part in any illegal activity. Yet he also issued a vague apology. “I am truly sorry,” Kraft said in a statement in March. “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 never says how he failed to meet that higher standard. Of course, no one thinks the blitz play to keep the surveillance video out of court was driven by vanity over the idea it might show a 77-year-old’s spare tire while getting a back rub.
Given all the loops of logic in the statements, it’s hard to to say exactly what kind of pass pattern Kraft and his team of PR handlers and legal eagles are running. But so far, at least, they’ve outfoxed the enemy. Which is, after all, The Patriot Way.