ALFRED, Maine (AP) — An insurance agent charged with promoting prostitution signed a lease, reviewed ledgers, confirmed the identities of johns and used Skype to monitor a Zumba instructor's paid sex acts, making him not just a voyeur but her full-fledged business partner, a prosecutor told jurors Tuesday.
Mark Strong Sr. helped fitness instructor Alexis Wright, his mistress, open her dance studio and "controlled, supervised and managed" the business to the point she took no action without his approval, Deputy District Attorney Justina McGettigan said.
But the defense characterized Strong, 57, as a man who was infatuated with a younger woman and made bad moral decisions but never profited from the operation.
"A business partner without making any kind of money? What kind of a business partner is that?" defense lawyer Dan Lilley told jurors, who heard closing arguments Tuesday and will begin deliberations Wednesday.
Strong is accused of helping Wright use her Kennebunk fitness studio as a front for prostitution from October 2010 to February 2012. He has pleaded not guilty to a dozen counts of promoting prostitution and a count of conspiracy to promote prostitution. Invasion of privacy charges against him were dismissed.
Wright, 30, faces more than 100 counts including prostitution and tax violations. She also has pleaded not guilty and will be tried later.
The prostitution scandal in Kennebunk, known for its ocean beaches and old mansions, attracted international attention after it was reported that Wright's ledgers indicated she had more than 150 clients and made $150,000 over 18 months. So far, more than 60 john suspects have been charged.
Testimony and videos indicated Strong was familiar with operational details of what happened in Wright's dance studio, chatting via Skype before and after her sexual encounters and watching the sex acts from his office 100 miles up the coast in Thomaston.
Often, Wright provided Strong with her clients' license plate numbers, which Strong checked out using his status as a private investigator, prosecutors said. Wright wanted to confirm her clients' identities and have someone watching over the sex acts to stay safe, McGettigan said.