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An insurance agent finds himself the unlikely defendant in the first Zumba prostitution trial.
Mark Strong Sr., 57, of Thomaston, Maine, is accused of helping his lover, a Zumba dance instructor, run a prostitution business out of her dance studio.
Strong says that the only crime he is guilty of is having an affair with the Zumba instructor and trying to help the young woman's business, reports CBS News.
Strong's attorney paints a picture of a man who grew very close to Zumba instructor Alexis Wright. As someone who cared for his lover, Strong is depicted as a smitten married man who tried to help and protect his paramour by loaning her money and even co-signing her lease.
While his decision-making may have been questionable, Strong's lawyer says his actions were not illegal, reports CBS News. He claims he had no knowledge that a prostitution ring was allegedly being run from the dance studio.
Strong faces 13 counts of dealing with promotion of prostitution. Wright faces charges of engaging in prostitution and will be tried separately later.
So why the separate trials for the two lovers?
In Maine, the courts will typically consolidate two trials when there are common questions of law or fact. However, even if there are common questions of law and fact, a court may order separate trials to avoid possible prejudice or out of convenience.
In this case, while the criminal charges stem from a single incident, Strong and Wright face very different charges. Strong faces charges for promoting prostitution and Wright faces charges for actually engaging in prostitution.
The two charges are very different and involve different facts and elements to prove guilt. For example, Strong's best line of defense may be to prove his alleged ignorance. However, Wright likely won't be able to rely on ignorance for engaging in prostitution.