March 1, 2013

Jurors see sex videos in Zumba trial

Prosecutors show evidence suggesting that Mark Strong watched Alexis Wright have paid sex with her clients.

By Scott Dolan
Staff Writer

ALFRED — Jurors in the trial of Mark Strong Sr. were shown a two-part, sexually explicit video Thursday as prosecutors laid out evidence that they say links Strong to a prostitution operation at a Zumba studio in Kennebunk.

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Alexis Wright and Mark Strong Sr.

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The first part of the video, about 36 minutes long, showed Alexis Wright adjusting a lacy black material draped over a camera shortly before letting a man into a room furnished with a massage table. She then had sex with him and told him, "45 minutes went up to $250."

The man left a pile of cash on the massage table.

The second video segment apparently showed Wright moments later, in the same room, wearing the same dress, saying goodbye to the man and locking the door behind him. She then spoke to another man, who was heard but not seen in the video.

The unseen man asked her, "Do you have anyone else?"

"I have people, but they won't be here for 45 minutes," Wright said.

Strong is charged with helping Wright promote a one-woman prostitution business. Prosecutors say he watched Wright have sex with clients through a live Internet video stream and saved hundreds of still images from the videos.

The prosecutors presented evidence in York County Superior Court on Thursday suggesting that Strong watched Wright while she had sex with the man in the video.

The question of how much sexually explicit evidence should be seen by jurors has been the subject of numerous arguments this week, in court and in private conferences with the judge.

Prosecutors have argued that the images should be shown to jurors because they document prostitution. Strong's attorneys have said the images prove only that he watched the sex acts, not that he was involved in prostitution. In arguing against showing the pictures, they have said the "very sexual" images would prejudice the jury.

During the 45 minutes of video Thursday, jurors showed little reaction. Some frowned, one rocked in his chair and another looked down and away from the screen for short periods before looking back at the screen.

The trial judge, Justice Nancy Mills, divided her attention as the video played, looking at the jurors, documents on the bench and the screen. She had seen the video earlier, she said.

A computer expert, Saco Detective Frederick Williams, testified Thursday for a third day.

Williams said he found the sexually explicit video of Wright, whom he identified from her driver's license picture, on an external computer hard drive that police seized in raids of Wright's properties on Feb. 14, 2012.

Williams said he found corresponding still images, captured through an online video chat service, on a computer that police seized in raids at Strong's home and insurance business in Thomaston on July 10.

"For the time frame of the video, there were 45 corresponding Skype video snapshots," Williams said.

He said he also recovered a ledger spreadsheet from a laptop computer seized from Wright and a "key" to translate the ledger. The key included codes such as K for kissing, S for sex, T for touching and a list of other sex acts.

Williams gave an example of one ledger entry: "Robert N, M, T, K, L, BJ, HJ, S - $250." He said one column in the ledger was "for services rendered."

Prosecutors showed a total of nine videos of Wright on Thursday, but only one that showed her having sex.

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