Dave Aronberg, one of the Florida State Attorneys involved in the prosecution of 25 men involved in a prostitution sting in Juniper, Florida compared the alleged victims to “modern-day slavery” during a press conference today. New England Patriots owner, Robert Kraft has been cited with two separate criminal acts stemming from the investigation.
Aronberg was particularly sensitive to the alleged victims and credited Marsy’s Law as an excellent tool for victims to obtain justice.
According to police documents obtained by TMZ.COM, officials “were able to get a covert surveillance camera inside the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, Florida to record illicit activity.” The report continues stating that, “it does not appear any of the suspects engaged in vaginal intercourse and that Cops say the surveillance videos capture every single detail of the encounters — including ejaculation and subsequent cleanup.”
Kraft’s spokespeople have said that he denies the charges. An arraignment has been scheduled for April 24th. Kraft will likely not appear in person at this hearing.
OUR PERSONAL OPINION
Some commentators have questioned whether the case could be successfully prosecuted if the women did not cooperate. Former Assistant U.S. Attorney, Kim Wehle, appearing on Fox News, said the video evidence would be powerful.
We are not certain that a strong case could be made against the various defendants in the event the women choose not to cooperate. It is settled law in the country that a defendant has a right to confront his accusers. A leading case on the subject is Crawford v. Washington, 541 U.S. 36, 124 S.Ct. 1354, 158 L.Ed.2d 177 (2004).
The issue is whether the evidence the government seeks to introduce, in this case, the videos, is testimonial. Crawford mandated that all testimonial statements be excluded unless the declarant is unavailable to testify at trial and the defendant has had a prior opportunity to cross-examine the declarant. Testimonial evidence is ex parte in-court testimony or its functional equivalent — that is, material such as affidavits, custodial examinations, prior testimony that the defendant was unable to cross-examine, or similar pretrial statements that declarants would reasonably expect to be used prosecutorially.
Accordingly, the state will need to secure the presence of the alleged victims at a pre-trial trial hearing or trial where they are subject to cross-examination before the videos would be admissible. The women may choose not to cooperate.