October 26, 2012

In Kennebunk, townspeople brace for release of 'the list'

By Eric Russell erussell@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

KENNEBUNK — As legal maneuvering Friday threatened to stall the possible release of the first batch of suspected clients' names in a prostitution ring, the town prepared for an awkward and uncomfortable next several days.

Ann Whetstone, who owns Mainely Murders Bookstore in town, said there has been a lot of fuss over something that's "not that serious a crime."

"People are going to talk but my life isn't going to change too much," she said. "If people are stupid enough to do this in their hometown, they need to accept what happens when they get caught."

Greg Butterworth, an artist and gallery owner in downtown Kennebunk, said he moved to town earlier this year but has followed the case.

"I guess people deserve what comes around," he said. "But life goes on. People have short memories."

Andrew Dolloff, superintendent of schools for RSU 21, which includes Kennebunk, already started reaching out to teachers last week to be on the lookout for any bullying of children, once the names start to come out. Dolloff was not in his office Friday.

Many people in town Friday were simply tired. Tired of being asked questions. Tired of the rumor mill churning. Tired of the fishbowl scrutiny of their small town.

The town has been dealing with the potential fallout from the anticipated release of a list of more than 150 prostitution clients of Alexis Wright, a former fitness instructor in Kennebunk. The list, which has not been made public, reportedly includes the names of prominent figures.

Wright, 29, is accused of prostituting herself and taping the encounters without the clients' knowledge. She pleaded not guilty earlier this week to 106 counts, including three felonies related to taxes and receiving public assistance when ineligible.

Mark Strong Sr., 57, of Thomaston is accused of being Wright's partner in the prostitution operation. He pleaded not guilty this week to 59 misdemeanor charges.

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