A request to block the release of names of clients involved in an alleged prostitution ring led by fitness studio owner and Zumba instructor Alexis Wright was denied by a Maine judge on Thursday.
Wright, 29, is accused of running an illegal prostitution ring out of the Pura Vida fitness studio in upscale Kennebunk, Maine, which she owns, and secretly taping her sexual liaisons. Both she and her alleged partner, Mark Strong have pleaded not guilty to a combined 165 counts of prostitution, invasion of privacy, and tax evasion.
Local police say they have over 100 hours of video and close to 14,000 screen shots seized from Wright’s office, showing her engaging in sex with paying clients, reported the Associated Press.
According to documents filed with the court, Wright came under scrutiny from local authorities after her landlord, Bee Nguyen, received complaints of odd noises emanating from inside her office. Nguyen said that tenants also reported that a large number of cars would frequently park behind the studio during the day and at night.
On Thursday, defense attorneys representing over 100 of the alleged Johns in the case asked for a restraining order and preliminary injunction to block Kennebunk police from releasing their clients’ identities beginning on Friday. However, District Judge Andre Janelle denied both motions.
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Stephen Schwartz, a Portland-based criminal defense attorney, argued that the release of those names could have a disastrous impact on the lives of Kennebunk residents.
"Releasing the list has the power to really destroy reputations," said Schwartz. "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.”
The client list is believed by some to include many reputable residents including politicians, lawyers, and law enforcement agents, reported ABCNews.
Daniel Lilley, the attorney for Mark Strong, corroborated the rumor, saying, “I’m told that there are police officers and firemen and accountants and TV personalities and lawyers. It runs the gamut of Americana, I guess.”
"There's a separate list with names and certain codes that would seem to reflect sexual acts and amounts,” said Lilley. “One case, I think the amount was $1,500."
"A lot of people would rather not see the names made public because it will hurt families, children and careers," said Dan Breton, the owner of a local deli and convenience store to the AP.