October 26, 2012

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.

By Ann S. Kim akim@mainetoday.com
Staff Writer

The attorney for a former Kennebunk High School hockey coach and other men who are charged with being "johns" of Zumba instructor Alexis Wright is angry that the defendants' names were released before a court reviewed his attempt to block the disclosure.

Gary Prolman said he filed a motion in York County Superior Court in Alfred on Friday arguing that the suspected prostitution clients' names should not be revealed because they are also alleged victims of violation of privacy.

Kennebunk police released the first round of names Monday evening after a judge rejected a similar argument by Stephen Schwartz, an attorney for several other defendants.

Prolman said Lt. Anthony Bean Burpee, the department's spokesman, told him he would not release the names until the motions were heard. "I just feel like I've been duped," Prolman said Thursday.

Bean Burpee said he never made such a promise and told Prolman that police were waiting on a resolution of Schwartz's case. Schwartz made an argument to the court about a statute that addresses the confidentiality of information about crime victims.

"I said we're holding off until we hear what's going on with the court, and that's what we did," Bean Burpee said.

Prolman has two clients who are among the 21 men charged with engaging a prostitute, a misdemeanor, in the scandal that has drawn national media attention to Kennebunk. One is Donald F. Hill, who told school officials this week that he was not pursuing reappointment as Kennebunk High's varsity hockey coach for personal reasons.

Prolman said Hill, a friend with whom he coached hockey, is devastated. Prolman said what happened between Hill, who he said was not married at the time, and Wright was between consenting adults in what Hill believed was a private place.

"Don Hill is one of the most caring, gracious human beings I've ever been around," Prolman said. "He has 20 years of coaching down at Kennebunk that he had to give up because he didn't want them to go through all this. That's the kind of selfless person Don Hill is."

Wright, 29, is accused of using her Zumba business in downtown Kennebunk as a front for prostitution and secretly filming the encounters. She has pleaded not guilty to 106 charges, all misdemeanors except for three felonies related to taxes and receiving public assistance when ineligible.

According to a police affidavit, Wright kept "meticulous" client records that have come to be known as "the list." Lawyers in the case have said it contains more than 150 names, including those of prominent figures.

The first people charged as prostitution clients include men from the building trades, real estate, law and financial services. Most are from southern Maine, one is from Boston and another is from New Hampshire. Their ages range from 34 to 65.

York County Deputy District Attorney Justina McGettigan has said in court that prosecutors plan to bring charges only against those they can convict without the cooperation of others.

Police plan to include the names of those charged in their bi-weekly news releases. Bean Burpee has said there is no plan for how many names will be released at a time. He said police are issuing summonses as they find probable cause for the charge and schedule appointments to serve the paperwork.

Timothy Zerillo, who represents a Saco man whose name was released this week, said the order in which people are being charged appears to be random.

His client, John Verreault, 50, is a "normal guy," a businessman whose family has been deeply affected, Zerillo said.

The lawyer said Verreault has been subjected to constant inquires from the media since his name was disclosed and looks forward to his day in court.

(Continued on page 2)

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