May 25, 2018
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Judge rejects request to seal the names of alleged ‘johns’ in Kennebunk prostitution case

By Stephen Betts, BDN Staff

BIDDEFORD, Maine — An 11th-hour attempt by an attorney for two of the alleged clients of a Kennebunk prostitution operation has been rejected.

But the lawyer made an appeal of that rejection Friday morning to Superior Court Justice Nancy Mills.

Biddeford District Court Judge Andre Janelle denied Thursday evening a request for a preliminary injunction that would have prevented the public release of a client list in possession of both the prosecution and defense in the Kennebunk prostitution case, a court clerk said Friday morning. The injunction also sought to prevent the release of the names of people charged by Kennebunk Police in connection to the case.

The motion had been filed late Thursday by attorney Stephen Schwartz of Portland on behalf of John Doe No. 1 and John Doe No. 2, according to a clerk in the Biddeford court.

The Kennebunk Police Department was scheduled to release Friday the first batch of names of people charged with solicitation of prostitution. Kennebunk police Lt. Anthony Bean Burpee said Friday morning that the release is on hold until Judge Mills makes her ruling.

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.

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

Strong, 57, 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.

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