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NFL owners to let Robert Kraft's court case play out before deciding on punishment, CNN sources say

Posted at 2:29 PM, Mar 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-26 14:29:50-04

NFL owners want to postpone any decision on whether to punish New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft until he resolves his legal issues, two sources at the owners' annual meeting said Tuesday.

The owners, who Commissioner Roger Goodell tapped to determine Kraft's fate, believe they should wait to make a decision until Kraft's charges of soliciting prostitution in Florida make their way through the court system, a team owner and an adviser to a team owner said.

"We don't want to touch this until after it's finished with in court," the owner said. "Robert is a friend. We would much rather be focusing on football here than his personal issues."

The owner went on to say that owners didn't know anything about Kraft's case other than what they'd heard in the media.

Added a top adviser to another owner, "Isn't this the commissioner's responsibility? No way anything is going to happen from the owners right now because we don't even know what he's going to do in legal terms."

Kraft, 77, is charged with two counts of misdemeanor solicitation in Palm Beach County, Florida. He was among more than 100 people linked to several central Florida day spas and massage parlors suspected of being fronts for prostitution after a months-long investigation. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges and denied any wrongdoing.

The billionaire has a preliminary hearing scheduled Thursday, but it's unclear whether he will attend the proceeding in person.

"I am truly sorry," Kraft said in a Saturday 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."

Authorities allege Kraft was recorded on surveillance cameras paying for and receiving sex acts at a day spa in Jupiter, Florida. Kraft and 14 other men have filed a motion seeking to prevent the videos and other evidence from being released.

Because the footage was obtained through a warrant, it's likely to be upheld as legal, said CNN legal analyst Mark O'Mara, who is based in Florida.

Prosecutors offered to drop the charges against Kraft and 24 other men in exchange for fines, community service and an admission they would be found guilty in court, according to the Palm Beach State Attorney's Office. A source familiar with the case said Kraft will not accept a plea deal.

Kraft's lawyer, Jack Goldberger, has not returned CNN's requests for comment.

Kraft was scheduled to meet with executives, general managers and head coaches at this week's owners' meeting to discuss changes in the league's rule book. The NFL meetings wrap up Wednesday, when Goodell is expected to face media questions about Kraft.

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