Suspected Johns Named in Zumba Sex Scandal
Authorities: Clients paid fitness instructor for sex at her studio in Kennebunk, Maine.
Alexis Wright, 29, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to 106 counts related to alleged prostitution at her fitness studio. (WOSH / March 29, 2013)
And it's the talk of Kennebunk, the historic, picture-perfect Maine town that had been -- until recently, at least -- best known for its bygone shipbuilding industry and a money-making tourist trade.
Police say the instructor, Alexis Wright, used her Zumba fitness studio and the office of her business partner, Mark Strong, to run a prostitution ring.
They say she videotaped intimate encounters with some of the dozens of customers she allegedly entertained.
On Monday, police released a partial list of those accused of hiring Wright after a judge rejected a request to shield their names from public view.
The attorney for two men named on the list argued that identifying them would destroy their lives, families and careers in the small town of 10,000.
While much of the world is getting its first salacious tastes of the whole affair, Kennebunk residents have been dealing with it since at least July, when police arrested Strong, Wright's business partner, and made the case public for the first time.
And it's starting to wear on them.
"I'm tired of it, honestly," resident Tina Palanka told CNN affiliate WGME. "I'm really tired of it. There's got to be more to Kennebunk than this. This is not a good legacy."
It's certainly not typical for a place where thousands of summertime tourists book rooms at 200-year-old inns, wander streets lined with trees and white picket fences, and stop to enjoy tasty lobster rolls.
It's just a short drive down the road from the Bush family oceanside compound in Kennebunkport.
Crime? What crime? The most recent crime roundup issued by police leads off with charges against a 51-year-old man for letting his dog roam free.
The prostitution scandal has taken things to a whole new and tragic level, said resident Paul Bergeron.
"Boy, it really hit us hard," he told WGME.
The sex allegedly occurred at a store-front Zumba exercise studio, run by Wright.
Zumba is, according to the brand's official website, "an exhilarating, effective, easy-to-follow, Latin-inspired, calorie-burning dance fitness-party that's moving millions of people toward joy and health."
According to Kennebunk police, someone tipped off authorities more than a year ago that something more than Latin-inspired dance was going on at the studio, located on a leafy stretch of York Street, next door to one pizza parlor and across the street from another.
Maine's State Police and the state's Drug Enforcement Administration soon started looking into the case.
And in February, five months after the investigation began, police raided Wright's fitness studio and Strong's office.