ALFRED, Maine (AP) — The jury in the trial of an insurance agent charged with promoting prostitution watched a video Thursday showing a sexual encounter between a Zumba fitness instructor and a man who left cash on her massage table.
Jurors also viewed video chats suggesting defendant Mark Strong Sr. was familiar with the encounters, including clips in which fitness instructor Alexis Wright discussed birth control and scheduling of clients. The chats occurred via Skype with Wright in the seaside community of Kennebunk and Strong in his office 100 miles away in Thomaston.
Prosecutors said they had multiple sexually explicit videos but showed jurors only a single 45-minute recording that showed Wright making chitchat with an older man who arrived and immediately began undressing. After their sexual encounter, she used disposable wipes to clean up, escorted the man to the door and then spoke to another man, presumably Strong, at the other end of the Skype chat.
Police computer expert Frederick Williams told jurors the video was recovered from a device belonging to Wright and that Strong's computer had 45 snapshots made from the same video.
He also described recovering a ledger from Wright's computer with entries from Oct. 5, 2010, through Feb. 13, 2012, the day before police raided her home, office and Kennebunk studio.
He also found a key that described a variety of sexual acts, and those matched with the sex acts — and a $250 payment — with the alleged client shown on the video seen by jurors. One ledger entry showed a payment of $500 for a sexual encounter, Williams said.
Strong, 57, of Thomaston, faces 13 counts that relate to promoting prostitution. A judge previously dismissed 46 counts of invasion of privacy over prostitution clients who were said to have been videotaped without their knowledge.
He and Wright have pleaded not guilty. She'll be tried at a later date.
The videos depicted a routine in which Wright and Strong chatted via Skype before she took a moment to ensure the video camera was hidden before alleged clients entered her office and Zumba studio. "OK, here we go. I'm locking my screen," she said as one client arrived.
On another video, she talked about scheduling conflicts, saying she had time for two one-hour sessions while the man believed to be Strong suggested she could make time for three 45-minute sessions.
"Maybe, but I'd be pushing it," she said.
Strong contends he had an affair with 30-year-old Wright and helped her launch her Pura Vida dance studio in Kennebunk, but his lawyer has said he was unaware of any paid sex. Prosecutor contended the videos proved he was familiar with the details of Wright's business.
Jurors showed little reaction as they watched the 45-minute video on a large screen. One looked away during parts of it, one fiddled with an eyeglass case, another twiddled his thumbs and several stole glances at a clock as the video showed the two engaging in sex acts.
On the video, Wright talked to the man about his business, his dogs and her classes. She politely rebuffed him when he said he'd like to spend more time with her. "I have new classes starting today and I have to run errands. Next time you'll have to not wait until the last minute to call me," she said.
After the man dressed, he asked, "How much is the rate now?"
She responded that it was $250 for 45 minutes.
After the man dressed and left, the video showed Wright picking up the money.
The prostitution scandal attracted international attention last fall after it was reported that Wright had ledgers indicating she made $150,000 over 18 months and had more than 150 clients, some of them prominent.
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