TODAY   |  October 16, 2012

Kennebunk authorities release list of alleged johns

A local Zumba teacher in Kennebunk, Maine, stands accused of prostitution, and authorities have now released a list of about 20 names of men who allegedly paid her for sex. NBC’s Katy Tur reports on the scandal that’s rocking the small town.

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>>> back now at 7:42 with a new development in the sex scandal involving a local zumba instructor. it has rocked a small town in maine. a list of some of her alleged clients is now public. nbc's katy tur is in kennebunk with more.

>> reporter: kennebunk expected 100 plus names to come out yesterday. what they got just over 20 meaning the small town drama is anything but nearing its end. a modern day "scarlet letter" story set but where else, new england. 21 names of 21 men who now stand publicly accused of paying for sex with this woman. alexis wright , the local zumba dance teacher. in this picturesque escape the scandal and the list of johns are the talk of the town .

>> there's no pride in them. i feel like that they have no class.

>> it's an unfortunate situation. i'm not -- i'm not happy about it.

>> reporter: in court filings monday the lawyer for two of the alleged clients unsuccessfully argued to have the names sealed forever claiming their constitutional right to privacy was at stake.

>> it's obviously devastating and people are presumed innocent , yet in this particular -- with this particular type of crime the allegation itself is -- is damaging.

>> reporter: wright allegedly sold sex out of this dance studio and secretly videotaped the encounters. prosecutors say they have comprehensive ledgers listing clients, acts and prices to convict wright on 106 counts of prostitution and promoting prostitution. both wright and her alleged business partner mark strong have pleaded not guilty. wright's lawyer says her client is not a monster.

>> i think you'd find she's like many 29-year-old women you'd meet. she's bubbly. she's kind. she's volunteered in her neighborhood. she tries her best to be the best possible mother to her son that she can be.

>> reporter: and adds that the 29-year-old is reeling from the pain the release of names is causing.

>> she doesn't want any of their families to have to go through the suffering that her family is going through, and she just assume that their names be left entirely out of it frankly.

>> reporter: names now out, some in the town are trying to tout its unwavering pride as others try to capitalize on its shame. again, this is not the end for this small town of 10,000. more names will be released as this investigation continues. savannah?

>> katy tur, thank you, star jones former prosecutor and legal analyst. good morning to you.

>> good morning, savannah.

>> the reason the court is releasing the names of these men because it is a crime in maine to solicit prostitution.

>> yes, indeed, it's a misdemeanor. however, just like any other crime, this local practice forced the police to release the names in what they cole the police blotter every couple of weeks. they tried to stop that from happening in this case.

>> the defense attorney made an argument that the mere allegation was damaging to their client. do they have a case, isn't that true of anybody that's crime?

>> first of all, everybody is innocent unless and until proven guilty so what makes this crime more special, if you want to say it's not a violent crime , well, what about insurance fraud ? what about some other lack of confidence for the public kind of case? it would be damaging to anybody if their name came out and if they were truly an innocent person. they are being treated the same. when a public trial is not in public, then in some ways it dilutes the confidence of the rest of us that people are being treated the same.

>> the defense lawyer made an argument the judge should consider what the release of the names would do to the families and children.

>> i think the men should have thought about what doing this kind of zumba would do. that's the bigger issue. the bigger purpose is to make sure there's fairness and justice, and that's what they are doing.

>> could these men then be forced to testify against her at trial? i mean, could they cut a deal with prosecutors and then testify against her and say, yeah, okay, i was a client.

>> you're looking at somebody at the very most they will have to pay a $200 fine. that's what the criminal liability , is but the personal liability is so much bigger. the best advice that anybody could be giving is pay the $200 fine and walk away really quickly and put your head down and try to get your wife and your kids to forgive you.

>> she allegedly videotaped these encounters, something i assume we'll see at the trial when we get there. would the men have a claim against her for invasion of privacy?

>> oh, yeah. she's been charged criminally with invasion of privacy. if in fact there's money to be gotten, you would expect lawsuits to come along with it. that's the least of their worries, as you might say, savannah. they have a lot of explaining to do.