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Zumba scandal: 21 names released in Maine prostitution case (+video)

Zumba scandal: Police released 21 names of men who were issued summonses for engaging in prostitution with a Zumba dance instructor who's charged with 106 counts of prostitution in Kennebunk, Maine.

By Clarke CanfieldAssociated Press / October 16, 2012

Alexis Wright, age 29, turns toward her attorney, Sarah Churchill (l.), during her Oct. 9 arraignment in Portland, Maine, on 109 counts of prostitution, violation of privacy, tax evasion, and other charges at her Kennebunk Zumba fitness studio and office.

Joel Page/AP

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Kennebunk, Maine

The first batch of more than 100 men accused of paying a fitness instructor for sex were lying low after police began releasing their names in a small New England town where rumors have run rampant for weeks.

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Police on Monday released 21 names of men who were issued summonses for engaging in prostitution with a 29-year-old Zumba instructor who's charged with turning her dance studio into a brothel in this seaside community and secretly videotaping her encounters.

Residents watched the news flash on their local evening TV news, and people could be heard discussing who was on the list as they walked through a supermarket parking lot and stood in line at a convenience store shortly after the names were made public.

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The rumors are likely to continue in the weeks ahead as police release the names of other accused johns in police activity reports that are issued every other week listing people charged with offenses ranging from allowing dogs to run at large and marijuana possession to driving under the influence.

A judge ordered the release of names without ages or addresses, so it was not immediately clear what their occupations and roles in the community are.

Kim Ackley, a local real estate agent, said that disclosure of the names will cause temporary pain for families, but it's only fair because others who are charged with embarrassing crimes don't get breaks.

"What's fair for one has to be fair for the other," said Ms. Ackley, who believes she knows several people on the list. "The door can't swing just one way."

Residents had been anxiously awaiting the release of names since 29-year-old Alexis Wright was charged this month with engaging in prostitution in her dance studio and in an office she rented across the street. Police said she kept meticulous records suggesting the sex acts generated $150,000 over 18 months.

Ms. Wright, from nearby Wells, has pleaded not guilty to 106 counts of prostitution, invasion of privacy and other charges. Her business partner, 57-year-old insurance agent and private investigator Mark Strong Sr., from Thomaston, has pleaded not guilty to 59 misdemeanor charges.

Police said more than 150 people are suspected of being clients, and many of them were videotaped without their knowledge.

In town, residents heard the list could include lawyers, law enforcement officers and well-known people, heightening their curiosity.

The list of names was delayed Friday by legal action by an attorney representing two of the people accused of being johns. The lawyer, Stephen Schwartz, said releasing the names will ruin people's lives, even if they're acquitted of the misdemeanor charges against them.

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