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Main’s name is the same but he’s not a john

Outing of customers of alleged prostitute tars the innocent

- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 16, 2012

KENNEBUNK, Maine — Paul Main's quiet evening was shattered by a phone ringing off the hook and a half-dozen TV crews showing up on his porch. Everyone wanted to know: Was he the same Paul Main who's been accused of visiting a prostitute in Kennebunk?

The answer was no. But a decision to release the names of alleged prostitution clients without any ages or addresses has caused big problems for men who have the same names as the accused.

For weeks, rumors about a prostitution business have run rampant in this small New England town best known for its proximity to the Bush family summer compound in neighboring Kennebunkport.

On Monday, authorities released the first batch of names out of more than 150 men accused of paying a Zumba fitness instructor for sex.

"I don't have a problem with releasing names. I think it's a wonderful thing, but I'll be darned if it's right to do it in a shoddy manner," said Mr. Main, a retired spokesman and head of the detective division for the York County Sheriff's Department.

The addresses, ages and other identifying information of the johns were withheld after a judge ruled that state law required them to be kept confidential because the alleged sexual encounters may have been videotaped, making the men potential victims of privacy invasion.

On Tuesday, Superior Court Justice Thomas Warren reversed his decision, ruling after a request from the Portland Press Herald newspaper that the addresses and other information could be released.

Kennebunk police reissued the names with the added details. The revised list included former South Portland Mayor James Soule and suspects from more than a dozen towns in Maine, as well as one from Boston and another from New Hampshire. They ranged in age from 34 to 65.

Other names on the initial list matched with an attorney and a businessman. But the lack of addresses and dates of birth made it impossible to verify exactly who was among the accused. Most records released by police and courts have that information.

The Associated Press declined to distribute the names until the suspects' precise identities could be confirmed. None of those who have matching names returned calls.

But many media outlets released the first list, causing problems for men like Mr. Main, whose name is shared by at least 20 others in Maine alone.

The town had been awaiting the release of the list since Alexis Wright, 29, was charged this month with engaging in prostitution in her dance studio and in an office across the street and secretly videotaping many of her encounters. Police said she kept meticulous records suggesting the sex acts generated $150,000 over 18 months.

Ms. Wright, from nearby Wells, has pleaded not guilty to 106 counts of prostitution and other charges. Her business partner also pleaded not guilty to 59 counts.

Police released the first 21 names Monday evening. The list was then revised to include the men's middle initials. Mr. Main's middle initial was different from the Paul Main who was listed.

Stephen Schwartz, a Portland lawyer who represents two of Ms. Wright's alleged customers, argued that the names and addresses of the alleged johns should be kept private.

Justice Warren declined to keep the names secret but agreed with Mr. Schwartz's contention that if persons charged with paying a prostitute are also alleged victims of invasion of privacy, then their addresses should be confidential under Maine law.

AP writers David Sharp and Glenn Adams contributed to this report.

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