October 26, 2012

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.

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

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

A sign advertising space for lease hangs in the former Zumba studio of Alexis Wright on Kennebunk’s York Street on Wednesday. Wright’s studio didn’t do much business, says a neighbor who wondered how she paid her rent.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

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Vaughn Mason and Paula Rosander of Hot Digity Dog talk Wednesday about an alleged prostitution operation in Kennebunk. Mason’s lunch van is located in a parking lot on York Street where Alexis Wright operated a Zumba studio.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

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Vaughn Mason was oblivious to the commotion around Wright and her studio, which was just across the parking lot from his Hot Digity Dog lunch van. Mason described Wright as a "very pleasant young lady" about whom he would have nothing bad to say. She would greet lunch van workers when passing by and sometimes get burgers for her staff, he said.

"The only thing I ever wondered about is, how did she pay her rent? It didn't seem like there was much business," he said.

The allegations came as a big surprise, said Paula Rosander, who works for Mason.

"We were shocked -- right under our nose!" she said.

Wright recently married her boyfriend, Jason Trowbridge, whom neighboring tenants described as a fixture around her studio. Trowbridge declined to be interviewed and referred questions to Churchill.

"As far as I'm concerned, he's not involved in the case," Churchill said. "He's not going to be. As far as I know, nobody's planning on charging him."

Lt. Anthony Bean Burpee of the Kennebunk Police Department said his department is not investigating Trowbridge.

In March 2010, Wright signed a five-year lease for the studio space. The landlord, Bee Nguyen, said he told her he needed someone with good credit to be involved. A week later, Wright returned with Strong, who signed the lease as a guarantor.

At the time, Nguyen said, the two made an impression on him: an older man and a younger woman who seemed "real friendly" with each other.

Nguyen said he was surprised to learn of Strong's arrest. He did a credit check on Strong, who appeared to be a solid businessman.

"I felt this guy is such a nice guy -- good business guy," Nguyen said.

Now, Nguyen said, the pair owes him $6,000 in rent. Wright started getting behind in her rent in February, he said.

Some around Kennebunk will be glad when Wright's case is out of the news.

"We have been advised by the Zumba home office not to comment," said Joyce Bagshaw, an instructor who teaches at another location in town.

Selectman Richard Morin said most of the discussion seems to be taking place online.

"In the absence of the truth, people make up their own stories," he said. "We're seeing all these uninformed speculations: They're delaying for this reason or that reason. Who knows?"

Morin said he's looking forward to the town being able to focus on more pressing issues, such as infrastructure improvement in Lower Village and preparations for the town's Christmas Prelude event.

West, Wright's office-space landlord, said his only regret is that her presence -- and the attention that followed -- was difficult for his other tenants.

"I understand there was quite the buzz around town (about Wright) that everybody was happy to share with me after the fact," he said. 

Staff Writer Ann S. Kim can be contacted at 791-6383 or at:

akim@pressherald.com

Twitter: AnnKimPPH

 

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Additional Photos

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Alexis Wright demonstrates Zumba at a festival in Wells last year. According to a police affidavit, searches of Wright’s office yielded evidence of prostitution.

2011 Press Herald file photo

  


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