Residents of a small seaside town in Maine are on tenterhooks awaiting the release of the names of more than 150 suspected clients of a secret brothel prosecutors claim was run out of a local Zumba dance studio.
Kennebunk is more usually known for its quaint shops, picturesque coastline and sailing, but it has hit national headlines for speculation as to just who might be on that list. Town residents have reportedly heard rumours that the clients could include lawyers, law-enforcement officers, firemen, local officials and other well-known people.
All apparently frequented the prostitution ring that is alleged to have been run by fitness instructor Alex Wright, 29, from the nearby town of Wells, under the guise of a Latin-flavoured dance exercise programme.
Wright has pleaded not guilty to prostitution, invasion of privacy and other charges for allegedly accepting money for sex and secretly videotaping her encounters. Her business partner, Mark Strong, has pleaded not guilty to 59 misdemeanor charges.
Searches of Wright’s studio and office turned up video recordings of sexual acts, billing information and meticulous records about clients, according to court documents.
Kennebunk police have begun issuing summonses to suspected clients and the first set of names was supposed to be released on Friday. But a lawyer for two men on the list filed a last-minute legal challenge that halted the public release until likely some time next week.
“We believe very strongly that their names ought not be released. The mere releasing of their names will have devastating consequences in a case in which the government, we believe, will have great difficulty proving,” said lawyer Stephen Schwartz. “We fully expect that they won’t be convicted, but the damage is done once the horse is out of the barn.”
Local resident Kim Ackley said that she hoped the names would be released soon, so people could move on with their lives.
“The list will be released eventually. They’re just doing everything they can to stall it,” she said. “Everybody is really ready to see who’s on thelist.”