- Beretta leaves Maryland over gun laws, heads for Tennessee
- Neal Boortz defends Hillary Clinton for representing child rapist
- House task force to recommend National Guard on border, faster deportations
- Top federal judge uses pizza to explain complex Obamacare situation
- Obama, Biden overhaul job training programs
- Drought-plagued Californians turn to paint to keep lawns green
- ISIL now forcing Iraqi shopkeepers to veil mannequins in Mosul
- 11 parents of Nigeria’s abducted girls die
- Genetic mapping triggers new hope on schizophrenia
- Turkish P.M. Erdogan won’t speak to Obama, but he’ll take calls from Biden
Maine man gets 20 days in Zumba paid-sex case
Question of the Day
PORTLAND, Maine — An insurance agent who helped run a prostitution operation out of his mistress’s Zumba studio and watched secretly videotaped sex acts was ordered Thursday to spend 20 days in jail in a scandal that rocked a community better known for its beaches and sea captains’ homes than for crime.
Before being sentenced, Mark Strong Sr. apologized for the pain he’d caused his family, and his wife broke down in sobs while making a plea to the judge for leniency.
“I do apologize for each of my selfish actions and the harm that I have caused many. Most importantly I want to apologize to my wife, my two sons and my entire family because I’ve caused so much hurt in so many ways, emotionally, physically and financially,” Strong said, his voice choking.
Prosecutors say Strong was involved in every facet of the Kennebunk operation with fitness instructor Alexis Wright, monitoring her calendar, reviewing her ledger, collecting dossiers on clients and watching the sexual encounters streamed to his office computer 100 miles away in Thomaston.
Strong even suggested ways to boost profits by marketing to higher-paying fetish clients and engaging in paid sex acts with multiple men at the same time, prosecutors said.
“This was not a man in love. This was not a voyeur. This was hard-nosed businessman,” said Deputy York County District Attorney Justina McGettigan, who asked the judge to sentence Strong to 364 days in jail, noting that the prostitution continued last year even after police raided Wright’s studio, office and apartment in Kennebunk.
Defense lawyer Dan Lilley asked for a maximum of 14 days in jail, telling the judge that police and prosecutors were overzealous in an investigation into fizzled with only two defendants and mostly minor charges.
“The state wanted Moby Dick but got fish bait. This is relatively minor case that has become, or did become, a media event. The simple fact is that the media … has already punished Mark Strong,” Lilley said.
Strong, 57, has acknowledged helping the 30-year-old Wright open her dance studio. He said he loaned her money that was repaid with interest, and that he didn’t profit from prostitution. But prosecutors said Thursday that he received 20 percent of Wright’s revenue from the prostitution business.
In court, Strong told the judge that he should’ve owned up to his mistakes right away. “Initially I wondered why this happened to me and why I’m going through this hell, when I should have accepted responsibility and instead focused on making amends for hose I hurt,” he said.
His wife, Julie, arm-in-arm with their son, Brad, broke down in tears as she pleaded for leniency, telling the judge that her husband “suffers from an illness that is curable.” She also said their marriage is better now that he’s confronting his illness.
“What started as my worst nightmare I could ever imagine has turned into one of God’s greatest gifts because God has given me a new marriage with a new man, and he is the man I always knew he was,” Julie Strong told the judge. “When I first saw him and met him, I could see a kind and gentle soul. Nobody chooses to do what he does.”
Justice Nancy Mills credited law enforcement for being diligent in what was initially investigated as a statewide prostitution ring with the potential for extortion because clients had been videotaped without their knowledge.
In sentencing Strong, she took into account that he had no criminal record, was a community leader in Thomaston and had strong family ties, as evidenced by more than a dozen family members in court to show support for Strong.
But she said jail time was warranted because of the duration and extent of the operation in which prosecutors say Wright made more than $150,000 over an 18-month period.
TWT Video Picks
The president could pay the full price for ignoring Congress
- IRS seeks help destroying another 3,200 computer hard drives
- David Perdue defeats Jack Kingston in Georgia Republican Senate primary runoff
- 'Straight White Guy Festival' supposedly set for Ohio park
- D.C. appeals panel deals big blow to Obamacare subsidies
- Pentagon team dispatched to Ukraine amid crisis with Russia
- MAY: Barbarians at Jordan's gate
- Hamas terrorists wear Israeli army uniforms to ambush soldiers in Gaza
- Beretta moving to Tennessee over Maryland gun laws
- McCLAUGHRY: Finish off the "Islamic State" quickly and cheaply
- BERMAN & MADYOON: An Iranian-Turkish reset
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq