Zumba instructor pleads guilty to prostitution

PORTLAND — A dance instructor accused of using her Zumba fitness studio as a front for prostitution pleaded guilty Friday to 20 counts in a scandal that captivated a quiet seaside town.

File photo

Alexis Wright

The plea agreement spares Alexis Wright from the prospect of a high-profile trial featuring sex videos, exhibitionism and pornography, and more than a thousand texts and emails detailing the operation. Prosecutors will recommend a prison sentence of 10 months.

The 30-year-old Wright was accused of conspiring with insurance agent Mark Strong Sr. to run a prostitution business in which she kept detailed records indicating she made $150,000 over an 18-month period. She was also accused of using a hidden camera to record sex acts without her clients' knowledge.

Strong, 57, of Thomaston, was convicted 13 counts related to promotion of prostitution and sentenced to 20 days in jail.

Wright quietly answered "guilty" 20 times when the judge read the counts, which include engaging in prostitution, promotion of prostitution, conspiracy to promote prostitution, tax evasion and theft by deception.

The scandal became a sensation in part because authorities said Wright had at least 150 clients in her small town on the Maine coast, leading to a guessing game about who they were. People who have seen the client list say some of the clients were prominent. Those who have been charged so far include a former mayor, a high school hockey coach, a minister, a lawyer and a firefighter.

Working together, Strong and Wright were an unusual pairing.

Wright attended college classes and ran dance classes for the local parks and recreation program before opening her studio in Kennebunk. She was charged with engaging in paid-sex acts in the studio, in her apartment and in her office.

Overseeing the operation and watching the sex acts live on his office computer 100 miles up the coast was Strong, a married father of two who ran a successful insurance agency in Thomaston.

It came as no surprise that Wright would seek a plea agreement because evidence presented in Strong's trial was damning.

A video played for jurors showed Wright engaging in sex acts with a man who then inquired about her rate before leaving $250 cash on her massage table. After the man left, the video showed Wright pocketing the money.

There was plenty of electronic evidence, because the two kept in touch via text and email and because Wright videotaped the clients and Strong watched live via Skype. Videos showed them speaking openly of ledgers, payments and scheduling.

Residents of Kennebunk were frustrated by the media coverage of the community of 10,000, better known for its beaches, sea captains' homes and Toms of Maine's toothpaste than for sex and crime.

Names of alleged clients trickled out as they were charged, leading to speculation about who else might be on the list. But residents soon grew weary of the media's attention, especially after it became clear that only a few of clients were local residents.

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Comments

AL PELLETIER's picture

One matter left to clear up.

Wright and Strong are now history, but by my last count only 64 of the 150 alleged johns have been charged. Several months ago the prosecution claimed that they were to busy preparing their case against Wright and Strong to pursue charging more of those on the client list , then the entire on-line format of the Kennebunk Police blotter mysteriously changed.
It's time for the town prosecutors to fish or cut bait or are they going to let some 84 alleged johns simply walk?

ANTHONY NAZAR's picture

It's a crime because

preachers say it's a crime. They need something to rave about and a "fallen woman" who lures men away from the sacred institution of marriage (I'm being sarcastic, folks) is as good a target as any. Besides - the righteous have been shrieking about prostitution forever.

Prostitution is a victimless crime. Being a john is not since the family of a john suffers a loss of trust. But none of the johns will get anything but embarrassed.

We've legalized gambling which cuts into church bingo, why not prostitution. Then she would have had to evade taxes to avoid discovery. :-)

Richard  Marshall's picture

such a heinous crime!

Im so glad we can sleep at night knowing these dangerous criminals are incarcerated!Comeon people!Lets concentrate our law enforcement on some crimes with VICTIMS!No one heald a gun to her head to do this and the buisness was brisk.The only victim here is the State of Maine,loosing out on tax money.The state looses that much every day when people go to New Hampshire to buy liquor,tobacco or other high taxed items.Grow UP!

Genise Knowlton's picture

Prostitution

I certainly hope that this woman receives the same leniency as Mr. Strong did - this is more of a moral issue than a judicial issue - at least in my opinion!

Ed McCaffrey's picture

It's been asked before

but I'll ask it again... Why is this even a crime??? Because the state doesn't make any tax money or because religious prudes (some of whom were clients) don't like the idea of it going on in their town?
There are plenty of cases of men and women keeping playmates on the side and paying their expenses but nobody gets brought up on charges of prostitution.
As for the clients, if they didn't like what they were getting at home, maybe they should have done a little more checking before they jumped the rails and then they wouldn't have to be explaining this to their families. Better yet, end your failing marriage and then hire a hooker.
Come on folks, it's 2013 and a woman's body is hers to do with as she sees fit. If that happens to be selling it for money, who are you to judge?
Oh, another thought... Are the men who were her customers being charged as well for soliciting, or is it just this girl being hung out to dry???

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