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    Police release 21 names in Zumba sex case

    Alexis Wright is accused of running a brothel in Maine.
    Alexis Wright is accused of running a brothel in Maine.

    KENNEBUNK, Maine — ­Police released the first round of names Monday of more than 100 men accused of paying for sex with a Zumba instructor who is charged with turning her dance studio into a brothel in this seaside community.

    The release of 21 names followed 11th-hour legal wrangling, and some residents watched the news flash on their local evening television news.

    Kim Ackley, a local real ­estate agent, said that disclosure of the names will cause temporary pain for families but it is only fair because others who are accused of embarrassing crimes do not get breaks.


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

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    Residents had been anxiously awaiting the release of names since Alexis Wright, 29, 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 that the sex acts generated $150,000 over 18 months.

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

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

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


    The prostitution charges and ensuing publicity, which reached across the country and beyond, came as a shock in the small town of about 10,000 residents, which is well known for its ocean beaches, old sea captains’ mansions and the neighboring town of Kennebunkport, home to the Bush family’s Walker’s Point summer compound.

    The list of names was ­delayed Friday by legal action by a lawyer representing two of the people accused of being johns. The lawyer, Stephen Schwartz, said releasing the names would ruin people’s lives, even if they are acquitted of the misdemeanor charges against them.