Trial of Kennebunk prostitution co-defendant gets underway

8:09 PM, Feb 20, 2013   |    comments
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ALFRED, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - One of the two main defendants in the Kennebunk Zumba prostitution case finally went on trial Wednesday.

Mark Strong's trial was delayed for several weeks after a series of legal maneuvers, motions and appeals.

Wednesday morning the final jurors were selected and in the afternoon, the lawyers presented their opening statements.

Strong, a businessman from Thomaston, is on trial for 12 counts of promotion of prostitution and one count of conspiracy to commit promotion of prostitution.

The State alleges that from October 2010 to February 2012, Alexis Wright managed or controlled a prostitution business out of a Zumba studio and another building in Kennebunk. The prosecutor told jurors that Wright provided the prostitution services to clients and Strong was involved with her along the way.

Prosecutor Justina McGettigan told jurors that Strong was in constant contact with Wright through email, phone calls and video chats. According to the prosecution, they discussed the business and the clients who visited. McGettigan said Wright would have Strong help her learn more about her clients.

"Mr. Strong was aiding Ms. Wright in her business of being a prostitute in Kennebunk," says McGettigan, "And he was actively engaged and she would take down license plates and ask him to run it to learn who the client was that she was seeing."

Mark Strong's attorney, Dan Lilley, told jurors to focus on two things: 1) Does the state have legal evidence to prove that strong promoted prostitution and 2) Did he intend to do it.

Lilley said a promoter of prostitution brings clients into the business to make money off it. Lilley says the only thing Strong is guilty of is using bad judgement by getting involved with a young woman.

"He's not a saint, he's got a wife and family and he became involved with a young woman. It's been told over and over again for centuries," argues Lilley, "Doesn't make it right, but doesn't make it a crime. So he had a sexual affair and there's no contest on that."

After the opening statements, jurors were dismissed for the evening.

Thursday morning the state will call its first witness to the stand. Strong's trial is expected to last about two weeks.

The other major defendant in this case, Alexis Wright, faces her own trial. That is scheduled for May.


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