Zumba Prostitution Scandal: Delays in trial of Alexis Wright's business partner tests would-be jurors' patience

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 during his arraignment on Oct. 9, 2012 in Portland, Maine
File, AP Photo/Joel Page

(CBS/AP) ALFRED, Maine - Jury selection in the trial of Mark Strong Sr., the business partner of a Maine Zumba instructor accused of using her dance studio as a front for prostitution, was delayed again Monday as prosecutors filed an appeal to the state supreme court.

Pictures: Zumba instructor accused of prostitution

Strong's lawyers pleaded with the judge to speed things along Friday after prosecutors appealed the judge's decision to dismiss 46 of the 59 misdemeanor counts against him. His lawyers feared that the jurors could make Strong the target of their frustration when the trial gets under way in earnest.

"There's no doubt they could take it out on him," defense lawyer Tina Nadeau told the judge in York County Superior Court.

Strong, 57, was originally charged with 59 misdemeanor counts including conspiring with dance instructor Alexis Wright, who's accused of using her Kennebunk dance studio as a prostitution front. The dismissed charges related to invasion of privacy after prosecutors said prostitution clients were videotaped without their knowledge. The remaining 13 counts focus on prostitution.

The first delay in the prostitution trial came Thursday when the Portland Press Herald sued over the judge's closed-door questioning of more than 140 potential jurors. The state supreme court ordered the judge to conduct the process in open court.

Remaining members of the jury pool reported back to duty Friday, only to be sent home again because of prosecutors' appeal. It was unclear when, or if, the state supreme court planned to schedule arguments on the latest appeal. Until it's resolved, jury selection will remain on hold.

Strong, a married insurance agent, acknowledged having a physical relationship with Wright after helping her launch her fitness studio by co-signing her lease and loaning her money that she repaid with interest. He said he never paid her for sex and was unaware of any prostitution.

Police said Wright videotaped many of the encounters without clients' knowledge and kept records suggesting the sex acts generated $150,000 over 18 months. She faces 106 counts, including prostitution and invasion of privacy, for acts performed in her dance studio and in a rented office nearby.

Complete coverage of the Zumba Prostitution Scandal on Crimesider