POSTED: 12:27 p.m. HST, Oct 15, 2012
LAST UPDATED: 01:51 p.m. HST, Oct 15, 2012
KENNEBUNK, Maine » Police today released the first round of names of people they say paid for sex with a Zumba fitness instructor charged with running a prostitution operation out of her studio.
Justice Thomas Warren earlier today denied a motion seeking to block disclosure of the names of the people, who are accused of being johns at the studio in Kennebunk, a seaside community.
An attorney for two of the people had filed a complaint asking the names be kept private and criminal charges not be pursued. But the attorney, Stephen Schwartz, said an appeal was unlikely.
Kennebunk police today released the names of 21 people who have been issued summonses to appear in court in the case, which had the town buzzing.
Police said Friday more than 150 people are suspected of being prostitution clients of Zumba instructor Alexis Wright, and the delay in releasing their names heightened the curiosity of town residents who had heard the list could include lawyers, law enforcement officers and well-known people. The Associated Press was trying to contact the people, whose addresses weren't disclosed because of a restraining order issued by the judge.
Wright, from nearby Wells, has pleaded not guilty to 106 counts of prostitution, invasion of privacy and other charges. Her business partner faces 59 misdemeanor counts.
The prostitution charges and ensuing publicity, which reached across the country and beyond, came as a shock in the small town, which is well-known for its ocean beaches, old sea captains' mansions and the neighboring town of Kennebunkport, home to the Bush family's Walker's Point summer compound.
Some people said they had their suspicions about Wright, but others were totally in the dark about the energetic dance instructor who introduced many local women to Zumba, a Latin-flavored dance and fitness program.
Alison Ackley, who participated in Wright's class, said she had no inkling she might have been leading a double life.
"I thought she was a little, not risque, but a little flirtatious with a couple of the male participants in the class," Ackley said. "But it's Zumba. You're there to have fun. I didn't think anything of it."
Her mom, Kim Ackley, said she hoped all the names would be released soon so people could move on with their lives.
Not everyone in town wanted the list to be released, however.
"I think it's a matter for the police, and not for us to know," resident Josiah Currier said.