Lifestyle & Belief

Kennebunk, Maine, awaits naming of johns in Zumba prostitution case

A judge in the case of two people accused of running a prostitution business out of a Kennebunk fitness studio has scolded state prosecutors over the state of their evidence. 

Alexis Wright and Mark Strong pleaded not guilty to a number of charges tied to the alleged prostitution during arraignments Tuesday in Portland.

The quiet old money town in Maine is abuzz with the news that Wright, 29, a fitness instructor, was secretly videotaping encounters in her Zumba dance studio.

There are 100 alleged johns, and according to the Associated Press, locals are curious to see whether their friends and neighbors are implicated.

"There's still some of that puritanical New England left around," the AP quoted Will Bradford, a shop owner in town, as saying. "There are places in the world that would laugh at this."

Dan Breton, the owner of a convenience store and deli, warned that families, children and careers would be hurt if names were made public. He said:

"I think most of my customers were shocked this was going on. But any time something like that happens, people get curious. It's almost like the newspapers are teasing us that there are prominent names on the list. But maybe it'll be nothing."

According to BDN Maine, Strong has been indicted on 59 criminal charges, including 12 counts of promotion of prostitution and 45 counts of invasion of privacy with an inside device.

Wright, 29, was indicted on 106 criminal charges, including engaging in prostitution, promotion of prostitution and failing to pay taxes in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

Justice Nancy Mills, meantime, called the state's handling of the case unacceptable, WCSH reported.

She said the prosecution's evidence — including what a prosecutor said were indications of child pornography — was disorganized and inaccessible. 

"At some point, the defendant’s rights will come into play, if they haven’t already,” Mills said, according to BDN Maine. “This is unacceptable for the defendants to be indicted and then to be handed a box of documents like this.”

Deputy District Attorney Justina McGettigan, representing the state in court, told Mills that the case was complicated and involved 13-thousand photo images, hundreds of hours of videos and dozens of text messages.

However, Daniel Lilley, the attorney representing Strong, slammed the mention of child pornography, saying prosecutors had previously told him in writing there was no such evidence.

Mills gave the state a week longer to provide a detailed list of all evidence against the defendants.