Zumba prostitution case back before Maine court

  • Associated Press
  • February 13, 2013 - 2:07 AM

PORTLAND, Maine - Maine's highest court prepared to weigh in on whether a man can be charged with invasion of privacy for viewing videos of accused johns who were recorded without their knowledge while engaging in sex acts with a woman who's charged with using her Zumba studio as a front for prostitution.

The trial judge dismissed 46 invasion of privacy counts against Mark Strong Sr., ruling that someone engaging in criminal conduct doesn't have the same right to privacy as someone changing in a dressing room or locker room.

Prosecutors are seeking to reinstate the charges.

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court was scheduled to hear arguments Wednesday afternoon.

Jury selection in the trial of Strong, who faces 13 other counts that deal with promotion of prostitution, has been twice delayed by appeals to the state supreme court.

The first dealt with First Amendment issues raised about the closed-door jury selection process. The second is dealing with the dismissal of the invasion of privacy charges.

Both Strong and fitness instructor Alexis Wright, who ran a Zumba studio in Kennebunk, have pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Jury selection in Strong's trial could resume if the supreme court rules quickly. Wright will be tried at a later date.

Prosecutors said the judge shouldn't have dismissed the privacy counts because the defense was late in raising the matter, the privacy issues are encompassed by state law, and the matter should be decided by a jury, not a judge.

Defense lawyer Dan Lilley countered that it makes no sense to grant privacy for criminal conduct. "The state's position on this appeal is contrary to reason, common sense and the interest of society," he wrote.

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