Updated Feb. 27 at 11:05 p.m.
Robert Kraft, CC ’63 and trustee emeritus, who has donated millions of dollars to Columbia and its athletics program, has been charged with two counts of soliciting prostitution in separate visits to an illicit massage parlor in Florida, police said Friday.
Currently the owner of the New England Patriots, Kraft is one of the largest donors to Columbia Athletics, having made a $5 million gift in 2007, which led to the Robert K. Kraft Field at Lawrence A. Wien Stadium being named in his honor. He also funded a $10 million in-door center at Baker for winter practices, and though unrelated to athletics, opened the Kraft Center for Jewish Student Life at Columbia in 2000, where students and events related to Jewish life are housed.
Kraft was also a recipient of Columbia’s John Jay award in 1987, a recipient of the Alexander Hamilton Medal in 2004, and was inducted into the Columbia Athletic Hall of Fame in 2012.
His charges, which have been escalated to two first-degree misdemeanors, come amidst a crackdown on sex trafficking in Florida, which has resulted in hundreds of arrest warrants and the closure of ten spas—including Orchids of Asia Day Spa, which Kraft attended—over a six-month investigation. Police had planted undercover cameras in targeted parlors to record interactions between employees.
Jupiter Police Chief, Daniel Kerr, confirmed that Kraft will be arrested citing video evidence. Kraft is just one of 25 people who will be charged by Jupiter Police in Florida.
The University declined to comment on Kraft’s charges or how they will affect his relationship with the Columbia, such as if he will retain his trustee emeritus title or previous awards.
In a statement to the Associated Press, a spokesperson for Kraft stated that they denied Kraft’s engagement in illegal activity, but provided no further comments.
According to a statement from former prosecutor David Weinstein to AP, individuals facing first-time criminal charges for soliciting a prostitute are typically allowed to enter a diversion program, where they perform a number of hours of community services and pay to attend an educational program about prostitution and human trafficking.
Vero Beach Police Chief David Currey, who is involved in the investigation, said to reporters earlier this week that the prostitutes were victims forced into the role.
Editor’s note: The Robert and Myra Kraft Family Foundation made a financial contribution to Spectator in 2014.