PORTLAND, Maine — A Superior Court judge ruled Monday afternoon that the names of the people accused of engaging a prostitute in a Kennebunk Zumba dance studio can be made public, but that their addresses should not be made public.
When that release will occur is not clear.
Justice Thomas Warren rejected a request for a temporary restraining order sought by the attorney for two men referred to in court documents by the pseudonyms John Doe No. 1 and John Doe No. 2 to prevent the release of the names of clients issued summons by the Kennebunk Police Department.
“Plaintiffs’ motion for a [temporary restraining order] is granted with respect to the disclosure of the address of any person who has been summonsed and who is also an alleged victim of the invasion of privacy brought against Alexis Wright,” Justice Humphrey ruled.
The order came on a day that saw additional legal maneuvering, much of it outside of public view.
Justice Humphrey made his ruling following a brief telephone conference with the John Does’ attorney, Stephen Schwartz of Portland, and an attorney for the Kennebunk Police Department.
The Kennebunk Department had announced it would begin releasing on Oct. 12 the names of people issued summonses for engaging a prostitute. Schwartz first filed an appeal in Biddeford District Court on Friday and was rejected in an effort to block the release of names. An appeal then was filed to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court but on Monday, Schwartz filed a motion to withdraw that appeal because of a the motion filed in Cumberland County Superior Court.
The Superior Court motion filed by Schwartz also sought to permanently prevent the district attorney’s office from prosecuting clients of Wright. He argued that the amount of harm inflicted on the people would outweigh the necessity to prosecute such a low-level offense.
“The state’s interest in prosecuting the low-level offense of engaging a prostitute is not outweighed by the invasion of privacy that will inure to plaintiffs if the prosecution proceeds,” the motion states.
The lawyer claims his clients have a constitutional right against the invasion of privacy by the publication of names.
“By gratuitously publishing a list of those charged with the minor offense of engaging a prostitute, subjecting them and their families to ridicule and public spectacle throughout the country, defendants are actually facilitating the more serious crime of invasion of privacy that the Legislature meant to proscribe and for which defendants have obtained an indictment against Ms. Wright and Mr. Strong,” the motion stated.
Affidavits filed by the John Does provide a little more information on the two alleged clients. John Doe No. 1 states that he is a disabled person who is a productive member of society with children.
“The nature of the charges against me is so notorious that any indication of involvement with such activities will cause severe and irreparable harm to my reputation as a private citizen, my familial relationships, and my professional reputation and relationships,” stated John Doe No. 1 in his affidavit filed in Cumberland County.
John Doe No. 2 states he has a family including a child and owns a business. He repeated the claim from John Doe No. 1 that the release of his name would cause irreparable harm.
A Superior Court ruling can be appealed to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.
Charged thus far have been Mark W. Strong Sr., 57, of Thomaston, who has been indicted for 59 counts that include promotion of prostitution, invasion of privacy, and conspiracy; and Alexis Wright, 29, of Wells who was also was indicted earlier this month on 106 counts, including charges of engaging in prostitution, violation of privacy and failure to pay taxes.
Strong’s attorney Daniel Lilley said Monday that the names should be released.
“Let the chips fall where they may,” Lilley said.
“They’ve crucified Mark Strong. They’ve tried him in the media. We should have a fair playing field,” Lilley said.
Lilley said if Strong’s case goes to trial, he certainly will call the alleged clients of Alexis Wright to testify.
Wright ran a Zumba dance studio in Kennebunk where police and prosecutors say she operated a prostitution business and videotaped clients having sex with her without their knowledge.
A telephone call and email messages were sent late Monday afternoon to Kennebunk police about if and when they would release names of people charged.