PORTLAND – A defense attorney for Mark Strong Sr., one of two key defendants in the high-profile Kennebunk prostitution scandal, plans to call one or both of the lead prosecutors in the case to testify for the defense at Strong’s upcoming trial.
Strong’s attorney, Daniel Lilley, sent a letter to York County Deputy District Attorney Justina McGettigan earlier this month informing her that he intends to call her or the other prosecutor on her team as a witness “to explore the issue of selective prosecution — bias or prejudice.”
McGettigan sent a response letter dated Feb. 14 to the judge who will preside over Strong’s trial, Justice Nancy Mills, to object to Lilley’s proposed move and request that the court address Lilley’s letter “on the record before the court restarts the jury selection process.”
Strong’s trial has been on hold since Jan. 25 when the partially completed jury selection was halted in York County Superior Court, pending an appeal by prosecutors looking to reverse Mills’ decision to dismiss 46 of the 59 counts against Strong.
The Maine Supreme Judicial Court on Friday upheld Mills’s decision to dismiss the 46 counts.
Mills then scheduled a hearing for Tuesday morning to discuss matters in Strong’s case and also in the case of accused prostitute Alexis Wright, whose trial is set for May.
Strong, 57, of Thomaston, is accused of conspiring with Wright to run a one-woman prostitution business from her Zumba studio in Kennebunk, and helping her to make video recordings of her encounters with customers.
Mills has issued a gag order in Strong’s case, barring his defense attorneys and prosecutors from talking to the media.
The gag order does not restrict Wright’s attorney, Sarah Churchill, from communicating with the media.
Churchill shared the emailed letters from Lilley and McGettigan with the Portland Press Herald on Monday afternoon.
Wright, 30, of Wells, has pleaded not guilty to charges of violation of privacy, promotion of prostitution, engaging in prostitution, conspiracy, tax offenses and receiving welfare benefits when ineligible.
The Supreme Judicial Court’s decision to uphold the dismissal of the 46 counts against Strong, all related to violation of privacy for allegedly video recording Wright’s encounters with customers’ paying for sex, also affects the case against Wright. She faces 46 counts identical to the ones dismissed in Strong’s case.
The high court’s decision Friday was the second time it has intervened in Strong’s case since jury selection began on Jan. 22.
During the first three days of jury selection, Mills conducted individual questioning of potential jurors for the trial, with attorneys present, behind closed doors.
The Portland Press Herald appealed her decision not to hold jury selection in public, and the Supreme Judicial Court sided with the newspaper in a 6-1 decision ordering the remainder of jury selection to be conducted in public.
Lilley has argued previously that police and prosecutors targeted Strong in retaliation for work he was doing as a private investigator to investigate the Kennebunk police.
Prosecutors had sought to undermine that argument and exclude mention of Strong’s work as a private investigator. Mills has said she would address the issue on a “witness by witness” basis.
McGettigan also asked the court in her letter of objection to address Lilley’s behavior in the case.
“While we have not responded to Mr. Lilley’s emails in which he suggests that the Attorney General’s Office has ‘appeared to … rubber stamp’ our appeal, and other baseless claims, we hope the court will address with counsel the vituperative tone of counsel’s emails, court filings and statements on the record regarding the District Attorney’s Office and the Attorney General’s Office,” McGettigan said in her letter.
At Tuesday morning’s hearing, Mills may also address a motion by Lilley seeking to lift the gag order in Strong’s case.
Staff Writer Scott Dolan can be contacted at: 791-6304 or at