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Tuesday September 2, 2014



The coastal Maine town of Kennebunk has been rocked by a prostitution operation at the Pura Vida Zumba studio. Charges were brought against Alexis Wright of Wells and Mark Strong of Thomaston in a case that has gained national media attention. A list of 150 "johns," including some prominent names, has kept residents talking and the case in the headlines.




The "johns" list
Released by Kennebunk Police Department

Courtroom video

 

 

Images from the court cases

 

Editorials

January 25
Our View: Court makes right decision on Zumba trial jury selection
Trials should be held in public, even if that's not always convenient for the people involved.

October 17
Bill Nemitz: Justice was blind but now he sees
By ordering that the names of "johns" be released but not their addresses, Superior Court Justice Thomas Warren cast a cloud of suspicion over innocent men.

October 16
Our View: Releasing names alone compounds the harm in prostitution case
Can you ever be too careful? Superior Court Justice Thomas Warren has shown that you can and that innocent people can get hurt.

October 7
Bill Nemitz: Innocents, innocence will suffer from 'the list'
One reader calls it the worst of nightmares for the wives and children of those charged as they try to go on with life under a cloud of "humiliation and despair."

August 24
Bill Nemitz: Slow-moving prostitution case has lots of people squirming
Last month, police charged Mark Strong with overseeing a dance studio/prostitution shop allegedly run by Alexis Wright in otherwise sleepy Kennebunk.



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More news coverage



January 18
No plea deal for Kennebunk prostitution case defendant
And in a 'bittersweet' ruling, Daniel Lilley loses his bid to withdraw as Mark Strong's defense attorney. The trial starts Tuesday.


January 17
18 men who pleaded guilty make Kennebunk prostitution witness list
The lead prosecutor in the case, York County Deputy District Attorney Justina McGettigan, filed a revised witness list just days before the scheduled trial of Mark Strong Sr.


January 16
Two sides to discuss plea in Kennebunk prostitution case
Mark Strong, a local businessman who is accused of co-running a prostitution business with a Zumba instructor, wants a deal with no jail time.


January 14
Lawyer asks for more time in Kennebunk prostitution case
Daniel Lilley, attorney for Mark Strong, filed a motion in York County Superior Court to delay his client’s trial, which had been scheduled to begin next week.


January 2
Motions rejected in Kennebunk prostitution case
The trial of Mark Strong Sr., a key defendant in the Kennebunk investigation, is now set for Jan. 22.


December 21
One 'jane' joins accused 'johns' on Kennebunk prostitution list
Kennebunk police charge a Shapleigh woman – as well as her husband – with engaging a prostitute.


December 19
2 men guilty, third doesn't show in Kennebunk prostitution case
Judge Andre Janelle called the name of Derek M. Chapman, one of 18 alleged clients of Alexis Wright who were summoned to Biddeford District Court on Wednesday, but Chapman was not in court.


December 14
Wright's son to live with dad until prostitution case resolved
Dana Prescott, the attorney for Benjamin Hopkins, said the couple agreed that the child will live with Hopkins until the criminal case against Wright is resolved.


December 12
Judge affirms separate trials for key figures in Zumba case
Mark Strong's attorney also makes a motion to have key evidence thrown out and the case dismissed, which the judge will rule on later.


December 11
Zumba case lawyer to argue illegal search
The attorney for Mark Strong says officials also have not disclosed everything found in searches in the high-profile prostitution case.


December 7
Two more suspects identified in Kennebunk prostitution case
At least 64 men have now been charged in the case.


December 6
Three found guilty in Kennebunk prostitution case
A judge fines the men $600 to $1,000 each in a case that has gained international attention.


December 4
Accused Kennebunk 'johns' to appear in court Wednesday
Just three of the 21 men who were summonsed for arraignment are expected to attend.


November 27
Evidence files given to Zumba teacher's lawyer
Kennebunk police also release the names of four more of Alexis Wright's alleged clients in the high-profile prostitution case.


November 21
Judge to keep Kennebunk prostitution affidavits sealed
The documents, used to request search warrants, are usually made public after the indictments, but haven't been in this case.


November 19
Kennebunk list includes many in construction
Yet there is no obvious link among alleged clients in the prostitution case other than the charge against them.


November 14
Four men fined in Kennebunk prostitution case
The men plead guilty before receiving a criminal complaint and pay fees and fines ranging up to $970.


November 13
Four men plead guilty in Kennebunk prostitution case
Meanwhile, Justice Nancy Mills agrees Alexis Wright and Mark Strong Sr. should not be tried together.


November 10
Lawyers want separate trials in Zumba case
Daniel Lilley, Mark Strong's attorney, says his client should be tried separately from Alexis Wright, who faces more serious charges.


November 9
Kennebunk police release 15 more names in prostitution case
Meanwhile, a local TV weatherman goes public to say his name won't be appearing on any upcoming list.


November 9
Prostitution case invites legal scrutiny
Some observers question the deliberate pace in the prosecution of the Kennebunk case, but experts say it may be an effort to keep it from ‘spinning out of control.


November 7
Complaint: Kennebunk Zumba instructor posed nude with son
A custody complaint filed by the boy's father claims the child was living in an “extremely dangerous situation” with Alexis Wright.


November 2
Court papers in Zumba case describe confiscated items
Investigators initially were looking for information in relation to Alexis Wright's website, documents show.




October 26
Kennebunk police charge 18 more alleged 'johns' in prostitution case
Unlike the first list of 21 court summonses, this list has no immediately recognizable names.

October 21
Sex scandal clashes with image of small-town Maine
For most Kennebunk residents, the biggest news of the fall was expected to be the completion of a beautification project on Main Street.

October 20
What the real Zumba is all about
Instructors cope with the fallout from the scandal.


October 19
Lawyer angry police released names of alleged Kennebunk 'johns'
The attorney for two men named in the high-profile prostitution case says
police should have waited.

October 18
Hockey coach named on Kennebunk 'john' list resigns
Donald F. Hill, 52, leaves varsity hockey at Kennebunk High School, and a key
defendant claims police charges are retaliation.

October 18
Prominent name on alleged 'johns' list: Ex-South Portland Mayor Soule
The attorney for Soule says the charge is being blown out of proportion.


October 17
List of 21 men charged by Kennebunk police in prostitution case
All of those named are accused of engaging a prostitute, a Class E offense punishable
by a $200 fine.

October 16
Kennebunk police again release names - this time with middle initials
Some media outlets, including the Portland Press Herald, have not published the names because the men's identities could not be verified.

October 16
Judge reverses decision on information on alleged 'johns'
Superior Court Justice Thomas Warren ruled that the addresses of individuals charged as suspected prostitution clients can be released.

October 13
Experts weigh in on publishing 'the list'
Editors seek guidelines about printing names of 'johns' in the Kennebunk prostitution case.

October 13
Release of 'the list' on hold for now
Authorities will not make public alleged prostitution client names before the state's highest court has ruled.

October 12
In Kennebunk, townspeople brace for release of 'the list'
Ann Whetstone, who owns Mainely Murders Bookstore in town, said there has
been a lot of fuss over something that's 'not that serious a crime.'

October 12
Court asked to halt release of alleged 'johns' in Kennebunk prostitution case
A lawyer seeks a preliminary court injunction blocking the release of names of alleged prostitution clients of Zumba instructor Alexis Wright.

October 11
Child porn assertion has suspect crying foul
Mark Strong's attorney says prosecutors ought to be sanctioned if they can't back up comments made in a prostitution case.

October 9
2 charged in Kennebunk prostitution case plead not guilty
Alexis Wright of Wells and Mark Strong Sr. of Thomaston entered their pleas in a Portland courtroom today.

October 9
Theft charges carry harshest penalties in Kennebunk prostitution case
Alexis Wright is accused of not reporting $150,000 income and wrongfully collecting welfare and food stamps over a several-year period.

October 8
Suspect in Kennebunk prostitution case seeks dismissal
Mark Strong's lawyer is again asking a judge to dismiss the original promotion-of-prostitution charge.

October 6
Kennebunk residents ready to see 'the list,' then turn the page
An alleged prostitution operation involving prominent people has townspeople curious, but a little weary, too.

October 5
Police set to charge alleged clients in Kennebunk prostitution case
Summonses are being prepared for more than 150 people, including prominent figures.

October 4
Agent, instructor face 165 charges in prostitution case
The indictments against Mark Strong Sr. of Thomaston and Alexis Wright of Wells were made public by the York County District Attorney's Office.

September 29
Newspapers fight gag order in Kennebunk prostitution case
Prosecutors have asked for a ban on any dissemination of information in the case, but two newspapers argue a lack of transparency hurts public confidence in the system.

September 28
Clients on alleged Kennebunk prostitution list likely to be charged
Observers have speculated that the case - which apparently involves well over 100 alleged 'johns' - will go to a grand jury next month.


September 27
Judge in Kennebunk prostitution case recuses herself
Justice Joyce Wheeler's decision comes a week after she had declined to recuse herself, although it's not clear why she changed her mind.

September 24
New judge assigned to Kennebunk prostitution case
Superior Court Chief Justice Thomas Humphrey on Monday assigned Justice Nancy Mills to the high-profile case.

September 14
Judge refuses to dismiss Kennebunk prostitution case
Attorney Daniel Lilley argued that the case should be dismissed because prosecutors have not followed the rules of discovery.

September 12
Defense asks for new judge in Kennebunk prostitution case
Lawyer Daniel Lilley is asking Justice Joyce Wheeler to recuse herself because of possible bias or the appearance of bias.

September 10
Portland judge assigned to Kennebunk prostitution case
There was a concern that judges in York County might have to recuse themselves if they knew any witnesses, the court says.

September 2
Suspicions loomed over dance instructor’s Kennebunk operation
Alexis Wright, who started teaching Zumba in Kennebunk in 2009, finds herself at the center of a prostitution investigation.

September 2
Suspect's image, arrest at odds in prostitution case
A respected Thomaston businessman and community leader fights charges linking him to a Kennebunk operation.

August 31
Lawyer to argue for dismissal of Kennebunk prostitution case
The lawyer for Mark Strong Sr. says prosecutors haven't provided him with documents and other evidence as required under the rules of discovery.

August 24
Lilley: Evidence not provided in Kennebunk prostitution case
Lawyer contends documents and other evidence the prosecution has should
have been provided to him by Aug. 10.

August 21
Alleged johns may be called in Kennebunk prostitution case
The lawyer for the man facing trial threatens to subpoena everyone involved in the case.

July 13
Attorney says suspect in prostitution case was hired to investigate
Mark Strong was in investigating allegations that police were harassing dance instructor Alexis Wright.

July 12
Too-busy dance studio led to suspicion of prostitution
Neighboring tenants of an office site in Kennebunk noted it was frequented by men for short stays.

July 11
Maine insurance agent charged with promoting prostitution
Mark Strong, who owns The Strong Agency on Main Street in Thomaston, was taken into custody by state police.

Portland Press Herald

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