December 20, 2012

2 men guilty, third doesn't show in Kennebunk prostitution case

By Scott Dolan
Staff Writer

BIDDEFORD — An arrest warrant will be issued for a Portland man accused of being one of the “johns” in the high-profile Kennebunk prostitution case because he skipped his scheduled court appearance Wednesday on a charge of engaging a prostitute.

Judge Andre Janelle called the name of Derek M. Chapman, one of 18 alleged clients of Alexis Wright who were summoned to Biddeford District Court on Wednesday, but Chapman was not in court.

The judge will set bail for Chapman, 32, of 461 Cumberland Ave., and a warrant will be issued for his arrest.

Two other men did appear in court: Matthew Scott, 49, of 121 North Wayne Road in Wayne, and Michael Wears, 52, of 27 Abenaki Lane in Sanford.

Both pleaded guilty to engaging a prostitute and were fined for the misdemeanor. Scott was fined $500 and Wears was fined $600.

Both declined to comment as they waited in line outside the criminal clerk’s office to pay their fines.

The three men were part of the second group charged in the prostitution case.

The first group, of 21 men, was summoned to appear on Dec. 5.

Most of the men in both groups retained attorneys who file not-guilty pleas for them in advance, waiving their required appearances.

At least 64 men have been charged so far with engaging a prostitute in the investigation of Wright, a former fitness instructor from Wells who is accused of running a one-woman brothel from her Zumba studio in Kennebunk.

At least 10 have been found guilty, including the two who pleaded guilty Wednesday.

Wright, 29, has pleaded not guilty to 106 counts, including promotion of prostitution, engaging in prostitution, invasion of privacy, conspiracy, tax offenses and receiving welfare benefits when ineligible.

Her alleged partner in the operation, Mark Strong Sr., 57, of Thomaston, has been indicted on 59 misdemeanor charges of promotion of prostitution, violation of privacy and conspiracy to commit those crimes.

He also has pleaded not guilty.

Strong is scheduled to stand trial in January. Wright’s trial is tentatively set for May.

The case has drawn international attention, in part because Wright reportedly kept detailed records of more than 150 clients, including some prominent figures.

The case has kept many communities on edge as Kennebunk police have released names of alleged johns in groups on a biweekly blotter.

Kennebunk police are scheduled to release their blotter again on Friday, but it is unclear whether more men will be named in the prostitution case.

The next group of men charged with engaging a prostitute is scheduled to appear in court Jan. 23.

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