The first accused client of a Zumba fitness instructor who used her coastal Maine studio as a front for prostitution was acquitted Tuesday after the judge threw out key evidence.
Former Kennebunk High School hockey coach, Don Hill, who was charged with patronizing prostitute Alexis Wright, was acquitted after Justice Roland Cole banned prosecutors from showing jurors Wright’s business ledger — a central piece of evidence in the prosecution's case against Hill and eight other alleged johns.
Prosecutors said they're prepared to move forward with the other eight cases in which defendants sought jury trials.
“We brought the charges in each case forward in good faith and we’ll continue to prosecute,” Deputy District Attorney Justina McGettigan.
The court did allow the prosecution to introduce photographs depicting the Hill visiting Wright, but because Wright would not be able to testify that the evidence was in fact her business ledger, Justice Cole deemed the evidence inadmissible in court.
The judge previously ruled that Wright could exercise her Fifth Amendment right not to testify against herself in the trial. Wright was sentenced in May to 10 months in jail under a plea agreement on 20 counts, including prostitution, conspiracy, tax evasion and theft by deception.
The case scandalized the small town of Kennebunkport, a seaside tourist enclave of pricey boutiques and proper bed and breakfasts and the part-time home to former President George H.W. Bush.
Wright's studio was raided in February 2012, and reports soon emerged that Wright had at least 150 clients, including a former mayor, a minister, a lawyer and a firefighter -- along with the local hockey coach. Many of Wright's alleged clients were videotaped without their knowledge.
Hill, 53, of Old Orchard Beach, was one of 68 people charged so far with paying for sex with Wright. Fifty-nine of them have pleaded guilty or no contest.
Defense lawyer Gary Prolman told the Associated Press that he and Hill are "ecstatic" about the outcome of the case. "It has been a long time coming," he said.
Hill has maintained that he believed that he was in a romantic relationship with Wright during the time the two were intimate, and that he never paid her for sex.
First published August 21 2013, 9:19 AM