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Crime & Courts

Jury selection getting back under way after delay in Maine Zumba studio prostitution case


FILE - In this Jan. 18, 2013 photo, Mark Strong Sr., leaves the Cumberland County Court House, in Portland, Maine. Delayed by a pair of appeals to the state supreme court, jury selection is set to resume Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013 in the trial of an insurance agent accused of helping a fitness instructor use her Zumba studio as a front for prostitution. Justice Nancy Mills convened attorneys for defendant Mark Strong and fitness instructor Alexis Wright on Tuesday to get the case back on track after the state supreme court upheld the dismissal of 46 counts against Strong. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File) (The Associated Press)

Jury selection in the trial of a man accused of helping a Zumba fitness instructor run a prostitution business is resuming in open court, where members of the jury pool could face embarrassing questions about their views on sex, adultery, pornography and prostitution.

The judge in the trial of married insurance businessman Mark Strong Sr. held two days of closed-door questioning of potential jurors before the state Supreme Court ordered the process opened to the public. Jury selection was to resume Wednesday morning.

Jury selection stalled for more than three weeks after prosecutors appealed the dismissal of 46 invasion-of-privacy counts against Strong. Strong, who's from Thomaston, still faces 13 other counts dealing with promotion of prostitution.

Strong and fitness instructor Alexis Wright, who ran the Zumba studio in the seaside community Kennebunk, have pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutors say Wright engaged in prostitution in the dance studio. She'll be tried later.

Justice Nancy Mills has gone to great lengths to seat a jury despite intense news overage generated by the prostitution scandal in Kennebunk, a town of about 10,000 residents known for its ocean beaches and old mansions. More than 140 potential jurors were called for the case, and each of them had to fill out a questionnaire.

The case has generated national and international headlines because of its location in a quiet seaside hamlet next to Kennebunkport, home of the Bush family's Walker's Point summer compound, and the scale of the prostitution alleged by prosecutors.

Police have said more than 150 people are suspected of being clients and many of them were videotaped without their knowledge. A lawyer who has seen a client list says it includes some prominent names. Those who've been charged include a former mayor, a high school hockey coach, a minister, a lawyer and a firefighter.

Strong said he helped Wright launch her Pura Vida dance-fitness studio in Kennebunk by co-signing for her lease and loaning money that was repaid in full. He said he didn't know about allegations of prostitution.

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