KENNEBUNK, Maine — The Kennebunk Police Department on Monday released a partial list of men summoned on charges of soliciting a woman accused of running a prostitution operation out of a Kennebunk Zumba studio, but the Bangor Daily News has decided not to publish the names because of the lack of identifying information.
The list includes just the first and last names of 21 men accused of paying 29-year-old fitness instructor Alexis Wright for sex.
A Cumberland County Superior Court justice on Monday 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.
Justice Thomas Warren ruled that the addresses of the men should be withheld, but did not specify that other identifying details such as dates of birth or middle names also should be withheld.
Nevertheless, when asked to provide more detailed information about the 21 alleged johns, Kennebunk police Lt. Anthony Burpee stated in an email that the department would not provide ages or states of residency for those charged with engaging in prostitution because “so doing would contribute to ‘identifying’ those who may be alleged victims of invasion of privacy.”
While some of the names appear to be unique, the BDN has chosen not to immediately publish them because the identities of many of the men on the list are unclear. Some of the names match multiple men in the state of Maine. For example, at least 11 men in Maine share the same first and last names of one person on the list.
Warren’s ruling Monday came amid additional legal maneuvering, much of it outside of public view.
Justice Warren made his ruling after a brief telephone conference with the John Does’ attorney, Stephen Schwartz of Portland, and an attorney for the Kennebunk Police Department.
The Kennebunk Police 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 on Monday. Schwartz filed a motion to withdraw that appeal because of a 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 on 59 counts that include promotion of prostitution, invasion of privacy, and conspiracy; and Alexis Wright, 29, of Wells, who 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.