Sunday, December 8, 2013
The lawyer for the Thomaston man accused of promoting prostitution at two Zumba studios in Kennebunk says he plans to call the alleged customers to testify at trial.
The Zumba dance studio at 1 High St. in Kennebunk has been implicated in a prostitution operation that led to misdemeanor charges of promoting prostitution against a Thomaston man.
Shawn Patrick Ouellette / Staff Photographer
Mark Strong Sr., 56, was arrested and charged last month with promotion of prostitution, a misdemeanor.
According to a police affidavit, searches of Alexis Wright's Zumba studios and her home in Wells turned up meticulous client records and hours of video recordings of sexual acts she performed.
Neither Wright nor any of her alleged clients have been charged in the case. The identities of the clients have not been disclosed, but defense lawyers have said the list is extensive and includes prominent figures.
Daniel Lilley, the Portland lawyer who is representing Strong, said Tuesday that he had his client's case moved from District Court in Biddeford to Superior Court in Alfred so he could have a jury trial.
Strong has no intention of pleading guilty, Lilley said.
"My position is: I'm going to trial and anybody involved in this case, I'm going to subpoena," he said.
Strong has a court date scheduled for Oct. 4.
Lilley has said that Wright hired Strong to look into allegations that Kennebunk police were harassing her, and that the businessman later loaned Wright money for what he believed was a legitimate enterprise.
Police have said they were investigating complaints about possible illegal activity at the Pura Vida/ZUMBA sites but deny they harassed Wright.
It's not clear when the investigation will be finished. Because it is ongoing, the search warrants issued in February for the Zumba studios and Wright's home were resealed until November, according to Kennebunk police Lt. Anthony Bean Burpee.
He was not sure when the seals on search warrants for Strong's business and home expire.
Neither Deputy District Attorney Justina McGettigan nor Sarah Churchill, Wright's lawyer, returned calls seeking comment Tuesday.
According to the available affidavit, Wright obtained a building permit for a studio on York Street in March 2010 and police started getting anonymous calls in September 2011 about suspicious activity there.
In February, the landlord of Wright's studio on High Street went to police because he was worried that she was conducting illegal activity in his building, according to the document.
Employees of businesses near both sites reported seeing men going in and staying 30 to 60 minutes, according to the affidavit.
They reported that the activity occurred at all hours, that some of the men arrived wearing business attire and carrying nothing, and that "moaning and groaning" could be heard.
Sex acts were videotaped or sent to Strong over the Internet, and Wright provided him with license plate numbers, according to the document.
Staff Writer Ann S. Kim can be contacted at 791-6383 or at: