ALFRED, Maine — The state is expected to charge many of the people who are named in a “client list” obtained from an investigation into an alleged Kennebunk-based prostitution operation, according to a motion filed by the prosecution.
The motion filed by the Maine attorney general’s office seeks to prevent the public release of the names — which could number more than 100.
The prosecutor also has asked the court to impose a gag order to prevent the release of much of the evidence being turned over to the defense and to prevent the defense from discussing the information with people not involved in the defense preparation.
The only person charged thus far in the case is Mark W. Strong, 57, of Thomaston. He was arrested in July and charged with promotion of prostitution. His attorney, Daniel Lilley of Portland, has criticized the prosecution over its handling of the case, specifically on the delay in providing evidence to him and the failure to charge anyone else.
The prosecution has turned over some evidence and said in its motion filed in York County Superior Court that it would be delivering more to Lilley. Included is evidence seized from Strong’s computer and the computer of a woman who operated the Zumba dance studio in Kennebunk.
The state has claimed that Strong, owner of the Strong Insurance Agency in Thomaston, had a significant business and personal connection to the dance studio in Kennebunk where police allege that prostitution was being promoted for more than a year.
The BDN is not naming the woman who operated the dance studio since she has not been charged.
“There is a so-called ‘client list’ with names and contact and other personal information regarding individuals on the list. The state will likely charge many of these persons with prostitution-related offenses, but some of these persons may not be charged,” stated the motion dated Sept. 20 and signed by Assistant Attorney General Gregg D. Bernstein.
The Attorney General’s Office has taken the position that the list should be part of the evidence covered by a protective order, which would restrict its release to only the defense and prosecution.
“The state seeks to be respectful of the constitutional rights of persons before they are charged, as well as those who will not be charged,” Bernstein states in his motion.
Bernstein adds that he expects the defense will object to that restriction and that court direction will be needed.
Lilley was not available for comment Friday, but someone in his office said the defense’s objection to that motion was mailed to the court on Friday.
Lilley has said earlier that he had heard, prior to the evidence being turned over to him, that there were up to 200 names on the client list which included prominent people in the community. Police records state that the dance studio owner videotaped many of the clients without their knowledge and maintained a very specific list of services rendered to clients.
Lilley has argued that Strong merely invested money in the woman’s business. He also has stated that Strong had been hired by the dance studio owner to investigate harassment by the Kennebunk Police Department. Strong also has a private detective’s license from the state.
Kennebunk police have denied the allegation.
The case became public in July when Strong was arrested but police say the investigation had been ongoing since the previous fall.
Justice Joyce Wheeler, who normally works out of Cumberland County, was initially assigned to the high-profile case because judges in York County might know some of the witnesses. But then she recused herself for unspecified reasons.
Justice Nancy Mills is now overseeing the case.