Prostitute Zumba instructor was using her exercise studio as a one-woman brothel with up to 150 clients and secretly videotaping them as they engaged in intimate acts.
Police started releasing the names of her clients who have been charged with patronizing a prostitute. This has set the town buzzing because the list is rumored to be replete with the names of prominent people. (The Portland Press Herald identified one suspect as a former mayor of South Portland.) The first 21 people, whose names were released Monday, are to appear in court on Dec. 5.
The case is somewhat complicated. The police say that by videotaping her clients, Alexis Wright, 29, the Zumba instructor, invaded their privacy and that the clients, in addition to being suspected perpetrators, are also thus victims.
That led to a convoluted court ruling that the names of the clients would be released but without further identifying information, like their addresses or dates of birth.
“People throughout New England are up in arms that their names might match,” Lt. Anthony Bean Burpee said in an interview.
When a list of the first 21 names was made public Monday night, it contained many common names. “Paul Main” was one, and the news whipped around town because Paul Main once worked for the sheriff’s department and even ran for sheriff himself a few years ago.
Generally, women who were interviewed here seemed to applaud making the list public with as much information as possible. Men, on the other hand, generally thought that the crime was minor and that releasing the names would only harm the families.
Chet Galeucia, who lives in Saco, said he agreed with his wife that the names should be published. “If I committed a crime, they would publish my name and address,” he said.
But Jim Pickett, who lives in Portland, disagreed. “You don’t want to hurt the families,” he said. Asked whether the husband had not already hurt the family, he said: “But the family doesn’t know about it. It’s not the worst crime. It’s not like stealing.”
Besides, he said, going to a prostitute is “natural.” Who is the victim? he asked. “Certainly not the woman. She’s inviting it. She made $150,000 in 18 months.
The drip-drip-drip of names is likely to continue for months. The case is so voluminous, Lieutenant Burpee said, that only a few people can be investigated at once. As soon as enough evidence is gathered to charge someone, the name goes on the police blotter, which is released every two weeks. The next blotter is due out Oct. 26, when townspeople will probably go into another huddle to discuss who is on the list.
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