A coalition of sexual exploitation survivors and advocacy groups are calling on the NFL to ban Robert Kraft from team ownership since he was charged last month with soliciting prostitution.
The group sent a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell saying the New England Patriots' owner should, at a minimum, be suspended six games, and should be banned from owning a team if found guilty of the charges he faces.
"Anything less will send that signal that owners are not held to a higher standard," the letter reads, "that their power, influence, and wealth permit them to get away with despicable actions, and that the NFL abets sexual exploitation and trafficking."
The NFL did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The group also called on Goodell to take immediate measures to create a culture that rejects all forms of sexual objectification, harassment, assault and exploitation of women by anyone associated with the NFL.
The letter comes on the eve of the NFL's Annual League Meeting next week in Phoenix Arizona.
Kraft is facing two misdemeanor counts of soliciting another for prostitution after authorities in Jupiter, Florida, said they caught him on video engaging in sex acts twice — including once hours before this year's AFC Championship Game — at an illicit massage parlor called the Orchids of Asia Day Spa.
The 77-year-old Brookline, Massachusetts, resident was among hundreds of men charged with soliciting prostitution in February amid a wide-ranging investigation into human trafficking at massage parlor spas.
"It’s important for the NFL to recognize that those who buy people for sex engage in crimes of sexual coercion and violence," said Lisa L. Thompson, vice president of policy and research at the National Center on Sexual Exploitation. "Payment for sex is a raw manifestation of sexual coercion. Men who buy people for sex use money to gain power and exercise temporary sexual control over others — typically women and girls. Further, we know that if men stopped purchasing people for sex, there would be no sex trafficking."
Kraft's arraignment in Florida is scheduled for March 28, but his lawyers have said he is not required to be present.
If convicted, he could face up to a year behind bars, according to prosecutors. While it's unlikely that he'll receive a jail sentence, legal experts said he could face other legal and legacy-related issues as a result of the allegations.