June 20, 2018
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Police expected to release third list of accused johns in Kennebunk prostitution case

Robert F. Bukaty | AP
Robert F. Bukaty | AP
A Unitarian Universalist church dominates one end of downtown Kennebunk, Maine. The New England coastal town has grown weary of its 15 minutes of fame following the Zumba prostitution scandal.
By Seth Koenig, BDN Staff

KENNEBUNK, Maine — Kennebunk police on Friday are expected to release a third list of men charged with paying for sex in the ongoing investigation into an alleged prostitution business in the town.

The police have already released the names of 39 men charged as johns in the case over two previous installments, on Oct. 16 and Oct. 26.

Among those previously charged with engaging a prostitute were former South Portland Mayor James Soule, former Kennebunk High School hockey coach Donald Hill, local lawyer Jens Bergens, and former Portland Planning Board Chairman Joe Lewis.

Investigators say a list of as many as 150 clients was kept by Alexis Wright, 29, of Wells, who is accused by police of running a prostitution business along with Thomaston businessman Mark Strong, 57, out of her Kennebunk fitness studio.

Both Wright and Strong have pleaded not guilty to a slate of charges stemming from the alleged operation.

Kennebunk Police Lt. Anthony Bean Burpee has said investigators are combing through Wright’s documents and, as they compile evidence to do so, incrementally charging clients with engaging a prostitute.

The names expected to be released Friday by police represent the men charged during the past two weeks. The department has indicated it would release biweekly lists of individuals arrested or issued summonses, regardless of the charges, and police plan to maintain that schedule through the prostitution case investigation.

The first list of men charged with engaging a prostitute was delayed and issued on the Monday following the scheduled Friday, Oct. 12 release day because of a motion filed in court by attorney Stephen Schwartz. Schwartz was representing two people on the alleged johns list and was trying to keep the names from public dissemination.

Schwartz argued that, because of the alleged videotaping activity, the accused johns were also victims of the crime of invasion of privacy, and as victims, they should not be named publicly.

Cumberland County Superior Court Justice Thomas Warren initially ruled that the names of the charged johns should be released, but without home addresses, in an effort to provide the men with a layer of confidentiality. That ruling caused police to release just the first and last names of the men charged as clients — initially without middle initials, ages or addresses — creating some public confusion around men who were not charged, but have the same first and last names as the men who were.

Warren reversed his decision the following day, on Oct. 16, and allowed all identifiable information to be released, and Kennebunk police updated their published list to include middle initials, ages and addresses.

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