March 23, 2019 / 7:24 PM / 3 months ago

Patriots owner Kraft apologizes in first statement since charges

Feb 17, 2019; Charlotte, NC, USA; New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft during the 2019 NBA All-Star Game at Spectrum Center. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

(Reuters) - New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft apologized on Saturday in his first public statement since he was charged for soliciting prostitution in Florida last month.

“I am truly sorry,” Kraft said in a statement. “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.”

The 77-year-old billionaire businessman, who according to police was captured on video engaging in sex acts with a worker at a massage parlor in Jupiter, Florida, said he had remained silent “in deference to the judicial process.

“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 in the statement, apparently referring to his late wife Myra Hiatt Kraft, who died in 2011 of ovarian cancer.

Kraft, who built the Super Bowl-winning Patriots into the National Football League’s most dominant franchise, was swept up in a police sting targeting sex-trafficking in day spas and massage parlors in several Florida counties.

Kraft, who lives in Massachusetts but owns property in Palm Beach, Florida, is accused of visiting Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter on two separate occasions to solicit sex.

The two charges he faces are misdemeanors.

On Friday, Kraft’s lawyer William Burck told sports network ESPN that “there was no human trafficking” in the case involving the Patriots’ owner and that law enforcement should investigate how the evidence was obtained.

(This version of the story was corrected to remove reference to arrest from headline)

Reporting by Maria Caspani; Editing by Sandra Maler

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