February 15, 2013

Maine high court to hear appeal in Kennebunk prostitution case

Prosecutors are seeking to restore 46 invasion-of-privacy counts against Mark Strong Sr., 57.

PORTLAND – Maine's highest court will hear oral arguments Wednesday on an appeal by prosecutors in the case of Mark Strong Sr., one of two key defendants in the high-profile Kennebunk prostitution case.

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Mark Strong, Sr. talks with his attorney Dan Lilley after Justice Nancy Mills dropped 46 charges against Strong at York County Superior Court in Alfred on Thursday morning, January 24, 2013. The Maine Supreme Court will hear an appeal to reinstate those charges.

Gregory Rec / Staff Photographer

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Strong's trial was set to begin last month in York County Superior Court when the judge in the case dismissed 46 of the 59 counts against him on Jan. 25.

Prosecutors appealed that decision to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, seeking to restore the 46 counts of invasion of privacy. Strong's trial has been postponed until the Supreme Court rules on the appeal.

Jury selection was mostly complete when Superior Court Justice Nancy Mills granted a motion by Strong's attorneys to dismiss the 46 counts. The pool of 250 potential jurors is scheduled to be dismissed at the end of this month, so jury selection could have to start over with a new pool.

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

Thirteen charges are still pending against Strong: 12 counts of promotion of prostitution and a single count of conspiracy to promote prostitution.

Wednesday's arguments will bring together all of the key lawyers in the case before the state's top seven judges.

York County prosecutors will present their arguments that the counts were dismissed in error. Strong's attorneys are expected to make counter arguments that the violation-of-privacy charges do not apply in this case, and that prostitution customers do not have an expectation of privacy while committing the crime.

Wright's attorney has filed a brief with the Supreme Court as an interested party since Wright also is charged with 46 counts of violation of privacy.

Wright, 30, of Wells, is scheduled to stand trial on a total of 106 counts in May. She has pleaded not guilty to violation of privacy, promotion of prostitution, engaging in prostitution, conspiracy, tax offenses and receiving welfare benefits when ineligible.

The case has drawn attention in part because Wright is suspected of keeping a meticulous list of more than 150 names of customers, including prominent figures. At least 66 have been charged, and at least 18 have pleaded guilty to engaging a prostitute.

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

sdolan@pressherald.com 

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