New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft broke his silence Saturday for the first time since he was charged last month with soliciting prostitution at a Florida massage parlor.
“I am truly sorry,” Kraft, 77, 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.”
Prosecutors charged Kraft on Feb. 25 with two counts of soliciting sex in an investigation involving an international human trafficking ring. He does not face any human trafficking charges.
Kraft and 24 other defendants face charges over their visits to the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, Florida, where he allegedly paid for sexual services in January. The Patriots owner pleaded not guilty, and his spokesman has denied that Kraft participated in any illegal activity.
On Tuesday, prosecutors offered Kraft a pretrial deal ― that his only punishment would be a fine and community service as long as he admitted prosecutors would win if the case went to trial. Kraft did not sign the deal Friday, but spoke out the next day “to correct some of the misinformation surrounding this matter.”
“Throughout my life, I have always tried to do the right thing. The last thing I would ever want to do is disrespect another human being,” he said. “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’s proclamation of having “respect for women” echoes that of his close friend Donald Trump, who has now been accused of sexual misconduct and harassment by more than 20 women. The president has repeatedly denied every allegation, even questioning the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape, which he responded to by saying “nobody has more respect for women than I do.”
Trump previously said he was “surprised” to hear about the charges against Kraft, who donated more than $1 million to the president’s inaugural committee.
Investigators said they have video evidence of Kraft with a spa worker on Jan. 19 and Jan. 20. Lawyers for Kraft and more than a dozen men filed a motion on Wednesday to keep the evidence private.
“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,” the billionaire said Saturday. “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.”