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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments


Some men in a small Maine town are probably getting more than a little nervous about now:

KENNEBUNK, Maine — Police on Monday released the first round of names of more than 100 men accused of paying for sex with a Zumba instructor who's charged with turning her dance studio into a brothel in this seaside community.

The release of 21 names followed 11th-hour legal wrangling, and some residents watched the news flash on their local evening TV news.

Kim Ackley, a local real estate agent, said that disclosure of the names will cause temporary pain for families but it's only fair because others who are accused of embarrassing crimes don't get breaks.

"What's fair for one has to be fair for the other," said Ackley, who believes she knows several people on the list. "The door can't swing just one way."

[. . .]

The list of names was delayed Friday by legal action by an attorney representing two of the people accused of being johns. The lawyer, Stephen Schwartz, said releasing the names will ruin people's lives, even if they're acquitted of the misdemeanor charges against them.

But what's true here about people's lives being ruined even if they're acquitted is true of any crime. Everyone charged can be considered innocent until proven guilty, but just being arrested carries a stigma. What's different about prostitution is that one half of the crime-causing duo has always been given a pass in ways that other participants in a criminal enterprise haven't. Who would expect only the names of the drug sellers to be publicized? Who is shocked to see stories about people busted for drug possession.

Every place I've ever worked it has been common practice not to publicize the name of Johns, mostly because of this "ruining the families by bad publicity" malarkey (h/t Mr. Biden). Whenver an exception is made it is usually because some police department or prosecutor's office is doing it as a publicity stunt to curb prostitution. And it usually causes a bib buzz because of these poor-baby husbands and fathers with dark secrets.

Talk about coddling criminals.