Fathers, husbands and prominent citizens among 21 names released with 'Zumba prostitute' client list
By MICHAEL ZENNIE and ASSOCIATED PRESS REPORTER PUBLISHED: 01:46 GMT, 16 October 2012 | UPDATED: 08:03 GMT, 16 October 2012
Fathers, husbands and prominent business owners are among the 21 names revealed by police in Maine today when they made public the client list of the alleged 'Zumba prostitute.' However, the Kennebunk Police Department refused to release any other identifying information for the men, citing a fear that their privacy will be invaded. They are accused of paying to have sex with Alexis Wright, a 29-year-old Zumba instructor who is charged with running an illicit brothel out of her exercise studio.
'The other shoe': Residents of Kennebunk, Maine, have been waiting for months for the alleged client list of Zumba instructor Alexis Wright to be released
Charged: Wright faces 106 counts of prostitution, invasion of privacy and other charges after prosecutors allege she secretly recorded sexual trysts with clients
The strange arrangement means longtime residents of the small New England shore town know who has been charged, but news outlets can do little more than print their names.
The Mail Online reached out on Monday evening to men on the list but did not receive a response, making it difficult to confirm their identities without knowing their addresses.
Online searches reveal men matching the names released live up to 50 miles away from Kennebunk -- many in Portland, the state's largest city. Most are fathers, husbands or boyfriends. Their Facebook profiles often show pictures of their children and partners. Some of the men are prominent citizens and business owners, including at least one lawyer and at least one realtor. The names are: Gary Bahlkow, Jens Bergen, Norman Crepeau, Joseph Cuetara, Kenneth Fairbanks, Donald Hill, Monie Hobbs, David Kline, Robert Labonte, Dale Madore, Paul Main, Harry McMann, Kevin Pagliccia, Claude Palmer, Philip Parker, Colin Powers, Clinton Ray, James Soule, John Verreault, James White and Peter Wormell.
'Co-conspirator': Mark Strong, right, was charged with promoting prostitution and accused of helping Wright set up the illegal operation
This was only the first in a series of Wright's alleged clients to be released publicly.Police said more than 150 people are suspected of being clients and many of them were videotaped without their knowledge.Kim Ackley, a local real estate agent, said that disclosure of the names of the people accused of being prostitution clients will cause temporary pain for families but it's only fair because others who are accused of embarrassing crimes don't 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.'The release of 21 names followed 11th-hour legal wrangling, and some residents watched the news flash on their local evening TV news.An attorney for two of the men filed an injunction, asking a judge to block the release of the names -- saying his clients would be subject to invasion of privacy. Residents had been anxiously awaiting the release of names for weeks since Wright was charged with engaging in prostitution in her dance studio and in an office she rented across the street.
Shocked: The scandal, which has attracted national news, has left residents gossiping about the Zumba studio and the alleged client list
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.In town, residents heard 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, 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 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 ultimately acquitted of the misdemeanor charges against them. Superior Court Justice Thomas Warren on Monday denied a motion seeking to block disclosure of the names. But he ordered that addresses should be withheld for those people who were victims of invasion of privacy when their acts were recorded.
Some people in town said they had their suspicions about Wright, but others were in the dark about the life of the bubbly dance instructor who introduced many local women to the Latin-flavored dance and fitness program.Ackley's daughter, Alison Ackley, who participated in Wright's class four or five times, said she had no inkling of any illegal activity.'She was so young,' Alison Ackley said. 'She had a lot going for her. It's a shame she was hanging out with these older men and getting money from them.'Kim Ackley said she believes the interest will die down once all the names become public in the coming weeks.'These guys have got to pay the price,' she said. 'It will all blow over in time, you know. A year from now it won't even be talked about, once it goes through the courts. You've got to move on and go on with your lives.'