May 20, 2019
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First batch of alleged johns in Kennebunk prostitution case due in court Wednesday

Robert F. Bukaty | AP
Robert F. Bukaty | AP
A pizzeria worker is interviewed by a TV crew in front of the former fitness studio where prostitution has been alleged to have occurred in Kennebunk on Friday, Oct. 12, 2012.

KENNEBUNK, Maine — At least 20 of the men accused of paying for sex in the high profile Kennebunk prostitution case are due to appear in Biddeford District Court for the first time Wednesday.

Police have been incrementally releasing the names of men charged with engaging a prostitute as investigators work their way through what they’ve described as massive amounts of evidence in the case.

Thus far, the names of 62 alleged johns have been released, predominantly through biweekly Kennebunk police blotters, in which all arrests and summonses occurring in the town in two-week intervals are made public.

The first 21 men charged as clients, whose names were released by police on Oct. 15, are scheduled to appear in Biddeford District Court on Wednesday. There, each man — who can be represented at the appearance by an attorney and avoid turning out in person — will have an opportunity to enter a plea in his individual case.

If found guilty, each man faces a maximum of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

One of those charged, former Kennebunk High School hockey coach Donald Hill, has reportedly entered a not guilty plea and requested a jury trial, steps that render moot a Wednesday court appearance. The Portland Press Herald reported Tuesday that Hill waived arraignment and will not appear Wednesday.

Others on the Dec. 5 docket include former South Portland mayor James Soule and local lawyer Jens Bergens.

After Soule’s name was announced in October, his attorney, Peter DeTroy, said he was unsure how his client would plead in the case, which he decried at the time as a “public spectacle.”

Investigators have said Alexis Wright, who police have accused of running a prostitution business out of her Kennebunk fitness studio alongside Thomaston businessman Mark Strong, kept meticulous records, including a list of as many as 150 clients of the alleged operation.

Both Wright and Strong have pleaded not guilty to a slate of crimes tied to the case.

The case has attracted global media attention, in part, because of the scandal’s placement in an unlikely location — a quaint, seaside Maine town previously known nationwide for its proximity to former President George H.W. Bush’s summer home in Kennebunkport.

Attorneys for Wright and Strong are asking the court to keep their trials separate, while prosecutors from the York County District Attorney’s office have filed a motion to keep the cases joined. Cumberland County Superior Court Justice Nancy Mills has yet to rule on the prosecution’s motion.

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