Judge issues temporary protective order blocking release of Robert Kraft spa footage

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Prosecutors in Palm Beach County, Florida, said in court papers Wednesday that they are obligated under Florida law to release police surveillance videos of Patriots owner Robert Kraft and 24 other men allegedly paying for and engaging in sex at Jupiter, Florida, spa, The Boston Globe reported.

However, a judge has issued a temporary protective order to keep the video footage from being released until he makes a ruling on it.

“I may be on shaky rounds, media, but right is right,” Judge Joseph Marx said in a conference call Wednesday, via ESPN. “To have this happen without a judge passing judgment on it is just wrong. So I am ordering, I am barring its release until this court … don’t want this released until I’ve ruled.”

State attorney Dave Aronberg’s office argued the videos must be released in relation to cases against two women — Lei Wang and Hua Zhang — who are accused of owning and managing the Orchids of Asia Spa, an alleged house of prostitution the men visited.

Kraft’s and Wang’s attorneys asked the judge to bar release of the videos while their criminal cases are pending. Prosecutors said in court papers they cannot wait, under state sunshine laws.

Prosecutors, “as the custodian of the records, cannot delay the release of records to allow a person to raise a constitutional challenge to the release of the documents,’’ Aronberg’s office wrote Wednesday, per The Globe. “The Public Records Act does not allow a custodian to delay the production of records to allow the resolution of a constitutional challenge to the release of the documents.”

Kraft and more than a dozen of the men charged in the case asked another judge, Judge Leonard Hanser, to issue a protective order blocking the public release of the videos. Marx is ultimately the one who ordered the protective order.

During a hearing last week before Hanser, Kraft defense attorney William Burck questioned the need to release the videos, especially given that already public affidavits from Jupiter police provided a detailed account of what transpired between Kraft and women on Jan. 19 and 20.

“The only possible reason to release it is to get eyeballs and clicks” on media websites from people seeking to watch individuals “engaging potentially in sexual conduct,” Burck told Hanser.

“It is basically pornography, your honor,” Burck said of the videos.