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Judge Drops Most Charges Against Mark Strong in Zumba Prostitution Case
01/25/2013   Reported By: Patty B. Wight

Day four of the Mark Strong trial delivered a bombshell, the judge dropped all counts of invasion of privacy and conspiracy to commit invasion of privacy in the prostitution scandal surrounding a Zumba dance studio in Kennebunk. That eliminates 46 out of the 59 charges Strong faces in the case that alleges he was a partner in the alleged prostitution business. It's the biggest development in a trial that's been limping along all week while trying to select a jury.

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Judge Tosses Strong's Invasion of Privacy Charges Listen

MPBN's Patty Wight has been watching the proceedings in York County Superior Court and she discussed the day's trial proceedings with MPBN's Tom Porter.

Tom Porter: "So Patty, these charges of invasion of privacy stem from videotapes of clients to the alleged prostitution business. Why did Justice Nancy Mills drop those charges against Mark Strong?"

Patty Wight: "Well, Strong's lawyer Dan Lilley argued a motion to drop those charges on Thursday. He said there's a question to consider, and that is: where should people expect privacy? A restroom? Sure. A dressing room? Absolutely. But a place where you're paying someone for sex? He argued, No. Prostitution is illegal as we all know, and Lilley said that when you knowingly walks into a criminal act, your privacy should not be protected. Here's how he framed it in court."

"If the state of Maine is now holding itself up as the only state in the union, that we can find, to say that criminals become victims when their acts of crime are recorded without their knowledge. That's what we're facing here. Just ain't gonna happen, I don't think," Lilley said.

PW: "Lawyers for the state, of course, disagreed. They argued that under the Fourth Amendment, people are protected against unreasonable searches and seizures, whether they're doing something illegal or not. Now, Justice Mills took some time to consider this - and ultimately, she decided that when someone engages in prostitution, they have no reasonable expectation to be safe from surveillance."

TP: "I imagine the prosecution wasn't happy with that decision."

PW: "No. The state filed an appeal, which effectively stopped the trial in its tracks because now, they have to wait for a decision from the Maine Supreme Court, and that could take weeks. Strong's lawyers fought this - they asked that the trial move forward on the other counts Strong faces, which are promoting prostitution. They said that this delay will only make the jury biased against Strong because they've been stuck waiting in a basement for four days, and the selection process isn't even over."

TP: "I gather those arguments didn't go anywhere?"

PW: "No - Justice Mills said if she granted that motion, it would trigger another appeal and more delays. So the defense filed a motion to the Maine Supreme Court to either dismiss the appeal or expedite a decision. They said the state is trying to derail the trial and is harassing Strong, who has the right to a speedy trial. They also cited the fact that earlier this week the court expedited a decision on an appeal made by the Portland Press Herald to allow the media to observe jury selection."

TP: "So what's next?" PW: "Either the Supreme Court will grant the motion and jury selection could continue as early as Monday, or the decision could take weeks. And in that case, the jury would likely be dismissed and the trial would have to start all over again at a later date."


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