Zumba madam Alexis Wright tearfully talks of childhood abuse in Maine sentencing

Screenshot via gossipbucket.com
Alexis Wright was convicted of using her exercise studio as a front for a brothel. Credit: gossipbucket.com

A Zumba instructor who admitted to using her exercise studio as a front for a prostitution business tearfully described a history of abuse before being sentenced to 10 months in county jail on Friday.

The instructor, 30-year-old Alexis Wright, and her 57-year-old conspirator Mark Strong had recorded Wright’s sessions with clients and maintained a list of about 150 local men — disclosures that shocked the seaside town of Kennebunk, Maine, where Wright operated.

“I’ve spent my entire life hiding the abuse and bad experiences that I have had,” Wright said in the historic courthouse, where the words “fidelity,” “decorum” and “virtue” were carved above the windows.

“I’m a person who knows the difference between right and wrong and because of this reason I chose to take the time in jail and take responsibility for my actions,” said Wright, sobbing into a tissue given her attorney by a court employee. “Those actions were not taken because I wanted to do it. I did not feel like I was in a position to choose.”

Wright in March pleaded guilty to charges including prostitution and conspiracy, heading off a trial in which jurors would have seen photos and videos of the accused prostitute engaged in sex acts with johns.

The videos were recorded on a computer in Strong’s office in Thomaston, 100 miles up the Atlantic coast, a step the pair took as a security measure, according to court papers.

About 68 of Wright’s clients have been charged as a result of those records and another 40 cases are still being evaluated, prosecutors said.

Wright blamed Strong, who in March was convicted of charges of promoting prostitution and sentenced to 20 days in prison. The two met about eight years ago, when Wright was working as an exotic dancer to support a former boyfriend, Wright’s attorney, Sarah Churchill, told the court.

Churchill said that as a child, Wright witnessed her father abusing her mother and later was sexually abused by him.

‘Partners’ in crime

Deputy District Attorney Justine McGettigan told reporters after the proceedings that York County officials did not accept Wright’s claim that Strong was to blame.

“She has her reasons why she’s saying what she did,” McGettigan said. “The state’s view is that they were partners together in this crime over a period of time and so the evidence that we have was that she was an active participant.”

Wright’s sentence was considerably longer than Strong’s, a fact that reflected that in addition to prostitution-related charges, she had also pleaded guilty to collecting public assistance illegally, not paying taxes on the cash her prostitution business earned and illegally collecting unearned tax refunds, said Superior Court Justice Nancy Mills.

In addition to the 10 months in county jail, Wright will have to pay close to $60,000 in restitution for fraudulently collected benefits, underpaid taxes and fines, Mills said.

Mills rejected Wright’s plea to allow her to serve her sentence in neighboring Cumberland County jail, which Wright’s attorney argued would be more suited to visits with her 8-year-old son.

The case has been the subject of intense public interest in a normally quiet Maine town previously best known for its proximity to former U.S. President George H.W. Bush’s vacation home in Kennebunkport.

Despite the attention and her looming prison time, Wright said she had felt a great sense of relief since police raided her studio early last year.

“Despite how difficult this has been since February 2012, this is the happiest time of my life,” Wright said, before being led off to serve her sentence.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.

International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

National

OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…

Local

MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.

Movies

Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."

Movies

'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.

Television

'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."

Television

TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.

MLB

Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

Travel

Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.

Education

Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…

Education

NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.

Tech

The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.