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.
Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie and another owner choosing not to be identified said Robert Kraft’s legal matters we’re not discussed at their meeting.
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.”
“The personal conduct policy applies to everybody, commissioners, owners, executives, players, coaches and it will be applied to everybody, but it will be done after we get all the facts, we have all the information, we’ll be fair and smart about it and that’s what we’ll do,” said Goodell in response to questions about if the NFL’s personal conduct policy would require him to suspend Kraft.
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 monthslong investigation. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges and denied wrongdoing.
The billionaire has a hearing scheduled for April 9 after waiving his arraignment on Tuesday.
“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.
CNN’s Paul Vercammen wrote and reported from Phoenix, Eliott C. McLaughlin wrote and reported from Atlanta. Steve Almasy, Nicole Chavez and Kevin Dotson contributed to this report.