March 13, 2013

Media frenzy hits high gear as Zumba negotiations stall

By Scott Dolan sdolan@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

PORTLAND – Members of the media chased Alexis Wright, the central figure in the Kennebunk prostitution case, for blocks Wednesday as she left the Cumberland County Courthouse after about five hours of plea negotiations.

click image to enlarge

Former Zumba dance instructor Alexis Wright leaves Cumberland County Courthouse after a meeting with attorneys to discuss a plea agreement prior to her upcoming trial for prostitution.

John Ewing / Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

Former Zumba dance instructor Alexis Wright leaves Cumberland County Court after a meeting with attorneys to discuss a plea agreement prior to her upcoming trial for prostitution.

John Ewing / Staff Photographer

Additional Photos Below

Wright left the courthouse from its side entrance on Pearl Street around 2 p.m., while most of the reporters and camera people who had gathered to cover her case waited outside the door on Newbury Street.

As she walked away swiftly, many of the media members ran after her, some carrying TV cameras, and followed her two blocks to Temple Street.

Wright, wearing a skirt beneath a knee-length, light colored coat and matching scarf, appeared amused in photos, smiling as she walked.

One of the prosecutors in the case, York County Assistant District Attorney Patrick Gordon, left the closed-door negotiations first, saying that no agreement had been reached and that both sides expected to talk again soon.

Wright left next, using a back stairwell from the second floor of the courthouse to reach the side exit.

When Wright's attorney, Sarah Churchill, left the courthouse later through the Newbury Street exit, no cameras remained.

She walked for about a block, calmly pulling her case files in a wheeled case, when the media members who had chased Wright ran back to Churchill, seeking comment.

"Seriously? You're running?" Churchill asked as they approached.

She said nothing that gave insight into the plea negotiations as the group gathered around her.

"There was no agreement reached, and discussions will continue," Churchill said.

Wright, 30, of Wells, is accused of conspiring with Mark Strong Sr. of Thomaston to run a one-woman prostitution business from her Zumba studio in Kennebunk. The case has drawn international attention, in part because of the detailed ledger Wright kept of her alleged clients and video footage of sex acts.

Strong, 57, was convicted last week of 13 misdemeanor counts after a nearly three-week jury trial in York County Superior Court.

He is scheduled to be sentenced March 21 on 12 counts of promotion of prostitution, punishable by as much as a year in jail, and one count of conspiracy to promote prostitution, punishable by as much as six months in jail.

Wright is scheduled to stand trial in May on 106 counts, including several felony counts, the most serious of which are punishable by as much as 10 years in prison.

She is charged with promotion of prostitution, engaging in prostitution, violation of privacy, conspiracy, tax offenses and receiving welfare benefits when ineligible.

Future plea discussions in her case will likely remain private unless a deal is reached.

A settlement conference held in January in Strong's case failed.

Scott Dolan can be contacted at 791-6304 or at:

sdolan@pressherald.com

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Additional Photos

click image to enlarge

Former Zumba dance instructor Alexis Wright leaves Cumberland County Court after a meeting with attorneys to discuss a plea agreement prior to her upcoming prostitution trial.

John Ewing / Staff Photographer

  


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