Co-defendant in Zumba sex case says he broke no laws
In this Oct. 9, 2012 file photo, Mark Strong Sr., right, sits with his attorney Dan Lilley, during his arraignment in Portland, Maine on 59 charges, including promotion of prostitution and violation of privacy in connection with a Kennebunk Zumba dance studio. (AP / Joel Page, File)
Published Thursday, October 18, 2012 12:05PM EDT
KENNEBUNK, Maine -- An insurance agent who helped a dance instructor launch a Zumba studio that police say was a front for prostitution contends he used bad judgment but committed no crimes.
Mark Strong Sr. of Thomaston issued a statement through his attorney that said he had a personal relationship with Alexis Wright but never paid for sex. He said he co-signed for her lease and loaned the business money that was repaid with interest.
Strong has pleaded not guilty to 59 misdemeanor counts including promoting prostitution and violating the privacy of men who were allegedly videotaped without their knowledge.
"The charges against me are untrue," he said Wednesday in the written statement. "I have made some bad choices but have broken no laws."
Wright, from nearby Wells, has pleaded not guilty to 106 counts of prostitution, invasion of privacy and other charges. Police say Wright kept "meticulous" records and a client list that lawyers involved in the case said includes more than 150 names, including those of prominent figures.
The first 21 names to be released included a former mayor in southern Maine and a high school ice hockey coach who opted not to renew his contract.
Strong said law enforcement officials originally charged him with promoting prostitution and arrested him in July as retaliation because he was looking into possible harassment of Wright by the Kennebunk police department.
The police department said there was no harassment of either Strong or of Wright. Both were investigated because there was probable cause that criminal activity took place at the dance studio, said Lt. Anthony Bean Burpee.