February 4, 2013

Alexis Wright's lawyer seeks to aid co-defendant in Zumba trial

Prosecutors want 46 invasion-of-privacy counts reinstated against Mark Strong for videotapes of alleged prostitution clients, but Wright's lawyer says the clients had no expectation of privacy.

By Scott Dolan sdolan@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

PORTLAND – Alexis Wright, one of two key defendants in the Kennebunk prostitution scandal, filed court papers Monday to join the legal fight against prosecutors' attempts to reinstate charges against the other defendant in the case.

click image to enlarge

Alexis Wright, left, and her lawyer Sarah Churchill

Tim Greenway / Staff Photographer

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Mark Strong Sr., right, and his attorney Dan Lilley

Gregory Rec / Staff Photographer

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court is expected to hear oral arguments Feb. 13 on an appeal filed by prosecutors in the case against Mark Strong Sr. Prosecutors want the court to overturn a decision by a Superior Court judge to dismiss 46 counts against Strong concerning violation of privacy.

Justice Nancy Mills dismissed the counts last month as jury selection in Strong's trial was nearly completed. Prosecutors appealed to the state's high court, and Strong's trial was halted in York County Superior Court.

Wright's lawyer, Sarah Churchill, filed a brief in state Supreme Court joining arguments by Strong's attorneys that the appeal should be denied because people participating in criminal acts can have no expectation of privacy.

"Participation in a prostitution business or a sex for hire is not a fundamental right subject to constitutional privacy protections," Churchill said in her 11-page argument on Wright's behalf.

Churchill argues in the brief that Wright, 30, of Wells, has a "vested interest" in the resolution of the appeal because she faces the same 46 violation of privacy counts as Strong did.

Strong, 57, of Thomaston, is accused of conspiring with Wright to run a one-woman prostitution business from her Zumba studio in Kennebunk, and of helping her make video recordings of her encounters with customers.

Jury selection in his trial began Jan. 22.

In dismissing the 46 counts against Strong, Mills agreed with Strong's attorneys, Daniel Lilley and Tina Nadeau, that prostitution customers cannot expect privacy when they go someplace and commit a crime.

York County Assistant District Attorney Patrick Gordon argued to reinstate the charges, saying that the statute relating to violation of privacy is intended to protect people in places such as changing or dressing rooms, bathrooms and similar places.

"The common thread between the places is each place is one in which people disrobe," Gordon said in his 22-page argument.

Strong still faces 13 counts of promotion of prostitution and conspiracy to promote prostitution. Those charges are not part of the appeal.

Wright is scheduled for trial in May on 106 counts, including 46 for violation of privacy.

Both defendants have pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Strong's attorneys and prosecutors also filed papers with the state Supreme Court on Monday, outlining their arguments.

Scott Dolan can be contacted at 791-6304 or at:



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