The alleged co-conspirator in Maine's infamous Zumba Whorehouse Scandal has been cleared of all charges related to videotaping the sex acts.
The judge in the trial of Mark W. Strong, alleged pimp and secret videographer of alleged Zumba Hooker Alexis Wright, effectively ruled that the johns had no right to privacy, Bangor Daily News reports.
Superior Court Justice Nancy Mills threw out 46 of the 59 counts against Strong â€” a professional private investigator who's pretty good with a camera â€” all charges related to the violation of Maine's privacy laws. In a groundbreaking ruling, the judge agreed with Strong's attorney, Daniel Lilley, that it's wrong to protect the rights of those who are committing criminal acts.
It is alleged that Strong videotaped the sexual liaisons that accused Zumba hooker, Alexis Wright, conducted with various johns over an extended period of time.
Both Strong and Wright have pleaded not guilty to running and operating a brothel. Strong admits that he did lend Wright money to begin operating a Zumba dance studio but was unaware of any illegal activity going on in there. Video of sexual encounters was recovered by Maine State Police when they raided Wright's Zumba dance studio in Kennebunk, Maine.
Lilley told York County Superior Court:
There is no statute that is going to give a criminal privacy rights to commit a crime, does that mean if a drug dealer is in an apartment dealing drugs and somebody happens to take a photograph, that the drug dealer would be a victim of privacy invasion?
A hearing based on the chief prosecutor, Justina McGettigan's appeal to Maine's Judicial Branch over Judge Mills' decision occurred this morning. Its results have not been made public at the time of this writing. Strong's lawyer wants the trial to go ahead based on the 13 counts that his client still faces regardless of whether the 46 dismissed charges are reinstated, according to the Portland Press Herald.
Strong's charges ranged from invasion of privacy to promotion of prostitution. Strong still faces 12 counts of promotion of prostitution and one count of conspiracy to promote prostitution.
Mills' decree came just hours after jury selection in the trial had been completed. The selection of potential jurors had gone on longer than usual, as the media attention the trial has attracted will have tainted many potential decision makers. Jurors are currently ordered to call a special hotline after 9:45 a.m. to find out when they are required to be at the court.
Previously Judge Mills had said that in her 19 years on the bench it has never taken her longer than a day to complete jury selection. Under Maine law both the prosecutors and the defense have four blackballs on any potential juror. They can also challenge any other selection with cause. Mills had been interviewing each potential juror personally to determine their impartiality, a practice known as voir dire.
Strong's troubles haven't ended; last week he tried to get the trial suspended as he claimed he could no longer afford his lawyer. Judge Mills called that issue "irrelevant."
Alexis Wright, pictured below, faces the exact same amount of privacy charges that Strong did. Her attorney, Sarah Churchill, told The Bangor Daily News that her client will ask for those charges to also be rescinded.
Strong took many photographs of Wright prior to their arrest. Many of the glamor shots of the 30 year old fitness instructor carry his watermark. In November it was revealed that Wright had posed naked with her seven year old son, a fact that contributed to her losing custody of her child late last year.
Wright's trial is scheduled to begin in May. In addition to prostitution charges, she is facing charges relating to defrauding the IRS and fabricating benefit claims.