Court assigns outside judge to hear York County prostitution case

Posted Sept. 10, 2012, at 5:07 p.m.
Last modified Sept. 10, 2012, at 6:03 p.m.
Mark Strong
Knox County Jail
Mark Strong

ALFRED, Maine — A judge from outside York County has been assigned to preside over the promotion of prostitution case involving Thomaston insurance company owner Mark W. Strong Sr.

Superior Court Justice Joyce Wheeler, who usually works in Cumberland County, will oversee the Strong proceedings, according to Mary Ann Lynch, government and media counsel for the Maine Judicial Department.

Lynch said it is not unusual for a judge to be assigned specifically to a high-profile case.

The court spokeswoman also stressed that the judges do not know who will be witnesses in the prostitution case but that if a judge did know any of the witnesses they might have to be recused from hearing the case. She said, however, that no judge has asked to be recused and no one has asked a judge to be recused.

A hearing is scheduled for Friday at the York County Superior Court in Alfred on a motion by Strong’s attorney Daniel Lilley to have the case dismissed because the district attorney’s office has failed to turn over evidence to allow the defense to prepare for court.

Strong, 56, was arrested in July and charged with the Class D offense of promotion of prostitution. The charge carries a maximum possible penalty of a year in jail.

Strong has pleaded not guilty to the charge.

State police stated in an affidavit filed in court in order to obtain an arrest warrant for Strong that Strong had a significant business and personal connection with the woman who ran the Zumba dance studio in Kennebunk that police allege was involved in prostitution.

No one else has been charged in the case. Police have gotten the court to seal until the end of November the affidavits used to obtain a search warrant of the Zumba studio, the office for the business, and the woman’s home.

Lilley said he has heard that there are 150 to 200 names on the client list maintained by the woman.

Lilley said Strong, who also is licensed as a private investigator, had been hired by the woman to investigate alleged harassment by Kennebunk police against her. Kennebunk police have denied the claim.

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