May 25, 2018
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Police to hold off on release of ‘johns’ charged in Zumba prostitution case

By Stephen Betts, BDN Staff

KENNEBUNK, Maine — The Kennebunk Police Department will not release the names of people charged with being clients of an alleged Kennebunk prostitution operation until the state high court decides on an appeal.

Lt. Anthony Bean Burpee said no names were being released Friday, as originally planned, because of the pending appeal.

Attorney Stephen Schwartz of Portland, who represents two of the alleged johns in the case, unsuccessfully sought Thursday evening to get a preliminary injunction in Biddeford District Court to prevent the release of the names of people issued summons. Judge Andre Janelle denied the request Thursday evening.

Judge Janelle also denied on Friday a request by Schwartz for an injunction until the Maine Supreme Judicial Court makes a ruling.

Despite that ruling, Bean Burpee said Friday afternoon that the Police Department would not be releasing the names until the appeal has been acted on by the high court. Bean Burpee said the appeal to the state high court was filed in Biddeford District Court and will be sent to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court in Portland. A Supreme Judicial Court official said late Friday afternoon that no appeal had yet been received.

The names of the two people being represented by Schwartz are named John Doe 1 and John Doe 2.

“Plaintiffs will suffer irreparable harm if their names are released to the media by the police,” Schwartz stated in the appeal filed Friday in Biddeford.

The Portland attorney said the issues that the Judicial Court should consider are whether the release of the names violate the Maine Criminal History Records Act. The appeal also asks the court to decide if the “mere mention of names of those charged create a ‘public spectacle,’ prejudice the jury venire, and subject those named to severe, irreparable harm?”

The appeal also asks whether the names of alleged victims of the crime of invasion of privacy should have their names released to the press.

Charged thus far in connection with the alleged operation of a prostitution business out of Kennebunk are 29-year-old Alexis Wright of Wells and Mark Strong Sr., 57, of Thomaston.

Wright, who operated a Zumba dance studio in Kennebunk, was indicted on 106 criminal charges. Those include failure to pay taxes in 2009, 2010 and 2011. Other offenses include engaging in prostitution, promotion of prostitution, violation of privacy with an inside device, conspiracy, unsworn falsification, evasion of income tax and felony theft.

Police maintain that she videotaped clients without their knowledge. Those videos have been seized by police.

Wright entered pleas of not guilty at a hearing Tuesday in Cumberland County Superior Court.

Strong was indicted last week on 59 criminal charges.

He also entered pleas of not guilty.

Those include 12 counts of promotion of prostitution, two counts of conspiracy and 45 counts of invasion of privacy with an inside device. The latter charges refer to the clients of the business being videotaped without their knowledge or consent. All the charges, except the two conspiracy counts, are Class D offenses which carry a maximum jail sentence of a year in jail. The conspiracy counts are Class E crimes which carry a maximum penalty of six months in jail.

No date has been set for a hearing before the Judicial Court.

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