Zumba/Prostitution Case Update

On Monday the Maine Law Court upheld Judge Nancy Mills’ order dismissing 45 counts of violation of privacy  and one count of conspiracy to commit a violation of privacy pending against Mark Strong in the Zumba/Prostitution case. Mark Strong still faces twelve counts of promotion of prostitution and one count of conspiracy to commit promotion of prostitution.

 

Mark Strong argued on appeal that the crime of violation of privacy does not occur if the alleged victim is engaged in criminal activity at the time of the violation of privacy. The prosecution argued the law protects the privacy rights of victims, whether or not they are engaged in illegal activity.

 

The appealed on turned on whether a “John” while having sex with a prostitute at her house or in two different location in her Zumba dance studio was in a private place, as defined by statute. The statute defines a “private place” as “a place where one may reasonably expect to be safe from surveillance, including, but not limited to, changing or dressing rooms, bathrooms and similar places.”  The prosecution argued a private place extends to any place in which a person disrobes in private, regardless of whether that person is engaging in criminal conduct at the time. Strong argued that a person engaged in criminal activity has no reasonable expectation to be safe from surveillance, and therefore the definition of a private place does not encompass a person engaged in prostitution. The Court examined the legislative history of the law and determined our legislators wanted a private place to be a place where one may reasonably expect to be safe from surveillance and the person’s desire to keep private what transpires within that place must be a justifiable expectation, and therefore, objectively reasonable. The Court found the “Johns” might have had a subjective expectation of privacy but it is objectively unreasonable for a person who knowingly enters a place of prostitution to have an expectation of privacy since engaging a prostitute is not sanctioned by society.

 

Again, should a “John” have an expectation of privacy when the sexual act occurs in a private place? Does society really not sanction prostitution or should it be legalized?

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