Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, is a 78-year-old widower who is currently facing federal charges for allegedly paying a 45-year-old legally licensed masseur in Florida to massage an especially delicate part of his body. Months of undercover police work, hidden cameras and multiple raids revealed Florida law enforcement’s obsession with Asian massage parlors, but no evidence of human trafficking.

Kraft got caught up in a “John sting,” an easy way for police departments to appear as if they are doing something to combat sex trafficking. These often high-profile raids rarely result in trafficking prosecutions, but rather prostitution or solicitation charges for the consenting adults caught in the act.

In Kraft’s case, multiple law enforcement agencies spent months pouring over hidden camera footage and rummaging through the trash of almost a dozen massage parlors.

 After an elaborate raid, multiple police departments threw themselves press conferences characterizing themselves as saviors. As part of this highly choreographed rescue operation, officers handcuffed 19 women, all of whom they depicted as sex slaves in the media, before bothering to speak to them.

The women were threatened with multiple felony charges unless they cooperated with police. Officers assured the public that they had broken up an international human trafficking cartel. Nothing could be further from the truth. There is no evidence of trafficking, or violence, or coercion. This was not a rescue operation. Police officers raided almost a dozen immigrant-owned businesses, traumatized at least 19 adult women and publicly humiliated hundreds of men, one of whom happens to own a football team. These raids are happening all over the country.

Time and money spent hunting grown-ups for doing consensual adult things with each other could be used to test rape kits, investigate reports of sexual violence and provide emergency support to victims.

But politicians aren’t advocating for better victim’s services; they’re asking for more arrests. Legislators throughout the country are trying to increase raids on massage parlors, increase surveillance at hotels and make men like Robert Kraft register as a sex offenders.


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