It’s not every week that I wish for the opportunity to do an extra column.
This, however, was one of those weeks.
I got a bit worked up Monday evening when it broke that a judge had ruled the Kennebunk Police Department could release the names, and just the names, of the alleged clients of accused prostitute Alexis Wright.
“They can’t be serious,” I said rather loudly to my husband.
I thought it was so absurd that I laughed out loud, but quickly became outraged when I realized that some news media outlets actually were printing the list.
The Bangor Daily News and Maine’s other large daily papers chose not to print the list until more identifying information, such as the ages and residences of the johns, were released.
The media outlets that did publish the list had the right to do so, of course, but their decision was as misguided as Superior Court Justice Thomas Warren’s.
The initial list contained no age, no place of residency to more clearly identify the accused. Just a name.
One was Donald Hill, who we later learned is 52 years old, has the middle initial ‘F’ and lives in Old Orchard Beach.
I know a Don Hill who once was the principal of Newport Elementary School and used to hunt with my kin over in Palmyra.
I always liked him and hoped he hadn’t been so foolish. Of course, I realized it could have been any of the 14 or so Donald Hills listed in the White Pages in Maine.
Of course, it wasn’t him. It was the Kennebunk High School hockey coach, who has since resigned.
Also on the list, released as it was by a couple of weekly papers and some TV stations, was a guy by the name of James Soule, later determined to be James A. Soule, 58, of South Portland, the former mayor of that city. I grew up just a few doors away from a boy named James Soule who, last I knew, was living in the Madison area.
And then, of course, there was poor Paul Main. Reporters began showing up at his Kennebunk home Monday night asking him if he was the same Paul Main who was on “the list.”
He just happens to be retired from the York County Sheriff’s Department, where he headed up the agency’s detective division, so that would have been an interesting story.
But instead it was actually Paul Main, a 43-year-old fellow from Biddeford who allegedly enjoyed the company of Ms. Wright.
Mr. Paul Main of Kennebunk was not pleased about the confusion and was right in his anger that a judge had made such a short-sighted ruling and that certain media outlets opted to print the list of names anyway.
A fellow by the name of James White, later revealed to be Jame P. White, 38, of Buxton, also was on the list as having been summoned for soliciting a prostitute. There are 54 men by the name of James White listed in the White Pages in Maine.
Of course in the light of day on Tuesday, Justice Warren apparently saw things differently and decided that indeed the ages and residences of the men charged also should be released.
And so those who might have been scrambling a bit to assure those around them, like their wives, that they were not “that” James White, were just left with a decent story to tell over coffee the next morning.
Now, of course, the media are gearing up for the second release of names of some other men who allegedly enjoyed Zumba class with Ms. Wright.
This time, I’m sure the release and the publication will go more smoothly, but the fallout at home and at work for the accused will probably be equally upsetting.
On Friday I got an email from a fan — yes, I have one. She lives Down East and appears sensible. She has a wry sense of humor.
Why, she asked, do you suppose all of those men gave Ms. Wright their real name?
Best question I’ve heard all week. I mean, they call them “johns” for a reason, I assume. Sure, it might have been difficult for James Soule, the former South Portland mayor, to be anonymous and perhaps, too, for Jens Bergen, a well-known Kennebunk lawyer.
I wrote back to her.
“You’re absolutely right,” I wrote. “If I was ever to engage a prostitute I would certainly use a false name and pay with cash.”
So many lessons to be learned by media executives, judges and even future johns.