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Originally published Monday, February 18, 2013 at 11:44 PM

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Maine Zumba prostitution case lag to be discussed

A judge was to convene lawyers Tuesday for two defendants in a prostitution scandal at a Zumba studio to determine how the case will proceed following a lengthy delay.

The Associated Press

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ALFRED, Maine —

A judge was to convene lawyers Tuesday for two defendants in a prostitution scandal at a Zumba studio to determine how the case will proceed following a lengthy delay.

Jury selection has been on hold for more than three weeks in the trial of Mark Strong Sr. after a judge dismissed 46 counts accusing him of violation of privacy of prostitution clients who were videotaped without their knowledge. The married insurance business owner still faces 13 other counts dealing with promotion of prostitution.

Among the matters that were to be taken up Tuesday was a motion by Strong's attorney to lift a gag order on attorneys. The earliest that jury selection could resume is Wednesday.

Both Strong, 57, of Thomaston, and Alexis Wright, who ran the fitness studio in Kennebunk, have pleaded not guilty.

Police said Wright, who'll be tried later, kept records suggesting the sex acts generated $150,000 over 18 months.

The 46 dismissed counts against Strong dealt with privacy violations. The state supreme court agreed with the trial judge that prostitution clients aren't protected by the state's privacy law.

The case generated national and international attention, both because of the small-town location and the scope of the alleged operation. A lawyer who has seen the client list says it totals more than 150, including some prominent names.

Strong characterized himself as a business partner who did not know that the Zumba studio was allegedly being used as a front for prostitution.

Strong 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.

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