Kennebunk prostitution case featured in Vanity Fair, continues to grab international attention

Alexis S. Wright, 29, of Wells listens to her attorney, Sarah Churchill in Cumberland County Superior Court in October 2012 where she was arraigned on 106 criminal charges.
Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Alexis S. Wright, 29, of Wells listens to her attorney, Sarah Churchill in Cumberland County Superior Court in October 2012 where she was arraigned on 106 criminal charges. Buy Photo
By Seth Koenig, BDN Staff
Posted Jan. 04, 2013, at 4:02 p.m.

KENNEBUNK, Maine — With the regular biweekly Friday Kennebunk police blotter postponed until Monday, watchers of the town’s ongoing and sensational prostitution case will have to wait a few extra days to find out if any more people have been charged with paying for sex there.

The case — in which 29-year-old fitness instructor Alexis Wright is accused of running a prostitution business out of her Kennebunk Zumba studio with the help of Thomaston businessman Mark Strong, 57 — has continued to attract global media attention.

The latest example is a high profile story in the latest edition of the magazine Vanity Fair titled “Town of Whispers,” in which the case is re-examined from the start and explores the litany of blogs and pornographic websites on which Wright allegedly posted elicit material.

Other websites devoted to the ongoing case have sprung up since charges were brought against Wright and Strong as well — including www.kennebunkprostitution.com and www.kennebunkjohns.org — and local rapper Cam Groves got more than 55,000 views of a music video he posted on YouTube spoofing the case.

One regular supply of new information for followers of the case has been the Kennebunk Police Department’s biweekly arrest list, in which the force incrementally released the names of individuals who had been charged as a client of the alleged prostitution business.

This week’s blotter release has been postponed until Monday because Lt. Anthony Bean Burpee, who is responsible for the release, is out of the office.

In recent weeks, however, the flow of new names of people implicated in the sprawling case — even when the blotters are released — has slowed to a trickle.

Starting on Oct. 15, the first three biweekly lists of arrests and summonses included the names of between 15 and 21 alleged clients of the suspected prostitution operation, but the next two blotters featured the names of only six such men combined. In the last arrest list only one person — the first woman — was charged with paying for sex.

Lt. Bean Burpee has said the reason for the slow-down of charges is that many of the individuals suspected of engaging a prostitute in the case are refusing interviews with police investigators and instead are engaging directly with the York County District Attorney’s Office, with whom they can plead “guilty by information” and avoid the spotlight of the regular police blotter.

The website kennebunkprostitution.com features a statistical run-down of the alleged clients in the case, noting that the average age of individuals charged with engaging a prostitute in the scandal is 49.3 years old, and the average fine paid by the 14 men who have pleaded guilty is $712.

Wright and Strong have both pleaded not guilty to a slew of charges related to the case. After a Cumberland County Superior Court Justice ruled against Strong’s latest motion to dismiss all charges this week, he will stand trial later this month.

Wright is scheduled for a May trial.

In a related case, the landlord of the building where Wright ran her fitness studio is now suing Wright and Strong, who were both allegedly on the lease, for unpaid rent and property taxes.

http://bangordailynews.com/2013/01/04/news/portland/kennebunk-prostitution-case-featured-in-vanity-fair-continues-to-grab-international-attention/ printed on October 23, 2014