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- American businessman and philanthropist
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft was charged with two counts of soliciting prostitution in connection with a Florida spa tied to an international human trafficking ring, Jupiter police said.
Where there's demand, there's supply
By Gil Smart
The phone at the law offices of Kibbey Wagner in Stuart, Florida, was ringing off the hook last week.
Apparently, every local male who has ever gotten a massage was panicking, wondering whether they were the next to be arrested.
"There (are) a lot of rumors and innuendos out there," said attorney Richard Kibbey of the sex-trafficking investigation involving at least eight regional massage parlors, several "madams," numerous victims/women from China who provided sexual services to clients — and hundreds of "johns."
And we've only just begun.
On Friday, Jupiter police announced that New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft was among 25 men to be charged with paying for sexual services at Orchids of Asia Day Spa.
More than 90 have been arrested in Indian River County, out of 173 warrants issued.
The other shoe definitely is going to drop.
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This investigation, the arrests, amount to a hand grenade tossed into the living room of dozens — maybe hundreds — of local homes. The domestic turmoil created by the arrests and the allegations made against husbands, fathers, business partners and respected professionals could well rip apart marriages and even cause businesses to falter.
Human trafficking is a very big deal, a huge moral stain. But if this investigation extends to your own front porch, if it impacts our community by taking down people who have been trusted members of it, that's going to be a bigger deal.
Kibbey, the attorney, said he's hearing from men who say they might have gone to the spas in questions but never paid for sex.
Martin County Sheriff William Snyder rejected that: "We were able to determine with certainty that 9 out of 10 men who went into the parlors where we did the search warrants were there for sex."
There is a "community" of clients, of johns, who frequent businesses like this, who find out about them (mostly) online and often leave reviews of the "services" provided.
"There's a statistical possibility some of these men were testing the waters for the first time," said Snyder. Most likely, he said, they were repeat customers.
"Sex can be an addictive behavior," he said. "That's what I think you're seeing here."
And then you think — how's this happening in comparably sleepy (and conservative!) counties, not to mention wealthy? The big cities, sure. But this type of vice, in these type of towns?
"What happens is the first (of the spas) sets up shop, finds out there's a community of men that will avail themselves" of the services offered, said Snyder — and other spas follow suit.
Where there's demand, even in your sleepy little community, there's supply. And it's always been that way, said Snyder, though it's easy to ignore — until something like this explodes all over the front page, then you can't ignore it anymore.
With Kraft's involvement, this story gets even bigger. And with the feds involved, with reported connections to Orlando and New York — we might only be pulling on the end of the string.
More shoes could drop. More like big, heavy work boots.
And while the likes of Kraft might survive, this will crush some people.
What others are saying
Eric MacLeish, The Boston Globe: "Investigators in Florida report that the women working at the spa are victims of a human trafficking operation where they were coerced into performing as many as 15 sex acts a day. Apparently, many live and sleep at the spa and are undoubtedly working without pay based on some fictitious debt that they incurred for being smuggled into the United States. Some were discovered squatting at the back of the spa, cooking on a hot plate. We don't know all of the details yet, but let's be clear. If the allegations are true, Robert Kraft has in effect aided and abetted an organization involving human slavery."
Siddharth Kara, USA TODAY: "If the allegations against Kraft are true, he is but one of the millions of men around the world who purchase female bodies for sex every day. That said, the acute asymmetry between his wealth and power and the powerlessness of the women he has allegedly purchased puts the reality of slavery in sharp focus — money and power have throughout history allowed people to violate the dignity of the poor and vulnerable with impunity. Until this reality changes, slavery will persist."
Will Bunch, The Philadelphia Inquirer: "It’s important to take a deep breath and remember — this isn’t really 'a sex scandal.' The real scandal here is the gross imbalance of power involving women who were held in a form of human bondage to serve as objects of gratification for powerful men intoxicated by their belief they can get away with anything."
What our readers are saying
"Punish Robert Kraft!" screams every newspaper's headline. And for what? The old man, who was married to the same woman for 48 years until she died, was probably just looking to get off. It shows how seriously messed up our society is. Sometimes real criminals walk free, while Kraft — a man who created many jobs for New England — is vilified.
— Valera Goetz
I find it disappointing that the issue of prostitution, sex trafficking and child pornography doesn't command news media attention unless a multimillionaire is arrested for solicitation.
— Michael Anthony Shea
Anyone who solicits prostitution is likely contributing to the horrific tragedy and criminality of sex slavery. That person should go to jail.
— Walt Stasinski
If you want to pay for sex, then that's one thing, but when you are dealing or contributing to sex trafficking — as allegedly Kraft did — then you need to be dealt with like anyone else who gets caught doing the same! I just hope the NFL makes the right decision.
— Thomas H. Evans
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Robert Kraft prostitution scandal exposes the horrors in our backyard: Today's talker