Wednesday, April 23, 2014
From staff reports
The Kennebunk Police Department on Tuesday morning released the middle initials of 21 men who were issued summonses in the wide-ranging prostitution case that has roiled the town of Kennebunk.
The list of names was initially released late Monday afternoon, without identifying middle initials, ages, addresses or hometowns. Some media outlets, including the Portland Press Herald, did not publish the names because the men’s identities could not be verified.
In a press released sent Tuesday morning, Kennebunk Police spokesman Lt. Anthony Bean Burpee said the agency would include future names of people issued summonses in the case in the regular bi-weekly press releases that the agency sends out. The next release is expected to be sent out Friday, Oct. 26.
The highly anticipated release followed a ruling Monday by Superior Court Justice Thomas Warren that denied an attempt by two alleged "johns" to prevent police and prosecutors from making the names public.
Warren decided, however, that the addresses of alleged clients who may be victims of violation of privacy in the case would be withheld.
The names were the first released from what has come to be known widely as "the list," which reportedly has more than 150 names, including those of prominent figures.
Kennebunk police released them in accordance with directions from Town Attorney William Dale, who said he interpreted Warren's order and the statute the judge cited to mean that no other information should be made public.
Dale said he instructed police to omit all addresses and ages because it wasn't immediately clear which suspects were possible victims of invasion of privacy. Police will add the identifying information for those who are not victims and send it to the media, Dale said.
Each of the 21 people has been charged with engaging a prostitute, a misdemeanor. Each is due in Biddeford District Court on Dec. 5.
One man said late Monday that he was furious that someone who shared his name was on the list, leading people to think it's him.
He said Kennebunk police should have released more information so people would know he is not charged with engaging a prostitute.
He said his telephone had been ringing since the list was released late Monday afternoon.
"I'm almost to tears and I'm 65 years old," he said. "This is how bad it hurts me."
The case has drawn national attention to Kennebunk, which has been bracing for the names on the list to become public.
Alexis Wright, 29, operated a business in Kennebunk where authorities say she prostituted herself and secretly taped the encounters.
Police said in an affidavit that searches of Wright's business and her home in Wells turned up "meticulous" client records, hours of recorded sex acts and evidence that those acts would have generated $150,000.
Wright has pleaded not guilty to 106 charges in the case. Most of the charges are misdemeanors, but she also faces three felony charges, related to taxes and receiving public assistance when ineligible.
Her alleged partner, Mark Strong Sr., 57, has pleaded not guilty to 59 misdemeanors. The businessman from Thomaston is charged with violation of privacy, promotion of prostitution and conspiracy to commit those crimes.
Monday's developments followed a last-minute effort by two alleged "johns" to stop the anticipated release of names.
The two, represented by lawyer Stephen Schwartz, went to court Thursday, the day before police were expected to begin releasing names.
The plaintiffs lost their initial attempt in Biddeford District Court late Thursday and an appeal there the next day. They filed a notice of appeal to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court on Friday, but withdrew it Monday and filed a new complaint in Superior Court, where Warren got the case.
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