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Zumba Prostitution Scandal: Jury selection begins for Alexis Wright's alleged business partner, Mark Strong Sr.

Mark Strong Sr., right, sits with his attorney Dan Lilley, left, during his arraignment, Oct. 9, 2012, in Portland, Maine, on 59 charges, including promotion of prostitution and violation of privacy in connection with a Kennebunk Zumba dance studio. Strong Jr. entered a plea of not guilty. AP Photo/Joel Page

Mark Strong Sr., right, sits with his attorney Dan Lilley, left, during his arraignment Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012 in Portland, Maine.
AP Photo/Joel Page

(CBS/AP) ALFRED, Maine - Jury selection began Tuesday in the trial of the business partner of Alexis Wright, a Zumba instructor accused of using her dance studio as a front for prostitution.

PICTURES: Zumba instructor accused of prostitution

About a third of more than 140 potential jurors were dismissed and the remainder told to return Wednesday as jury selection continues in the trial of Mark Strong Sr.

Justice Nancy Mills will be hard-pressed to find jurors who know nothing about the case.

Celebrity lawyer Mark Geragos, whose clients have included Chris Brown, Michael Jackson and O.J. Simpson, said cases like this one cause problems for judges.

"These are what I affectionately call `supersized trials,' trials that for whatever reason end up gaining momentum that's far beyond what the case justified," Geragos said from Los Angeles.

Strong, 57, has said he helped Wright launch her Pura Vida dance-fitness studio in Kennebunk by co-signing for her lease and loaning money that was repaid with interest. He acknowledged having a physical relationship with Wright but said he never paid her for sex.

He denied engaging in any criminal conduct.

Police said Wright videotaped many of her encounters without her clients' knowledge and kept meticulous records suggesting the sex acts generated $150,000 over 18 months.

A lawyer who has seen the client list says it totals more than 150. So far, more than 60 people have been charged or pleaded guilty.

Wright, who lives in nearby Wells, will be tried at a later date. She faces 106 counts including prostitution and invasion of privacy.

Complete coverage of the Zumba Prostitution Scandal on Crimesider

  • Crimesider Staff

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