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Entries in sex scandal (7)

Sunday
Jun092013

Ex-Cheerleader Engaged to Former Student in Sex Scandal

Cody York/Facebook(CINCINNATI) -- A former Cincinnati Bengals cheerleader and teacher who pleaded guilty to sexual abuse of a teenaege boy, is now engaged to him, her former student.

Sarah Jones, 26, pleaded guilty in October 2012 to sex abuse as a result of her relationship with Cody York, who was 17 when the couple started having sex.

On Thursday, the couple posted photos on their Facebook pages announcing their engagement. Jones’ attorney Eric Deters confirmed that the couple was engaged.

Jones pleaded guilty last year for having sex with York when he was 17 years old. Photos on her Facebook page show the pair announcing their engagement.

Jones met York when she was a 9th grade teacher at Dixie Heights High School.

“There’s absolutely nothing prohibiting [the victim] and Sarah from being together,” Deters told ABC News affiliate WCPO-TV in Cincinnati.

Now 19, York is attending Northern Kentucky University according to his Facebook page. Jones is currently a paralegal for her attorney.

After pleading guilty, Jones was sentenced to five years probation and can never apply for another teaching position.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Jan192013

Zumba Sex Scandal: Accused Business Partner Claims Affair with Alexis Wright, Denies Prostitution Ring Involvement

ABC News(PORTLAND, Maine) -- The man accused of bankrolling the Maine Zumba studio, which instructor Alexis Wright allegedly used as a front for a brothel, denied having any involvement or knowledge of the alleged prostitution ring, but said he and Wright had an affair and he loaned her money.

In an interview with Nightline, Mark Strong Sr., flanked by his lawyer, Dan Lilley, spoke for the first time about the accusations that he was the 30-year-old Zumba instructor's business partner in a prostitution scandal that has rocked the small New England town of Kennebunk, Maine.

"I'm sorry for any dishonesty [and] for the intimate relationship that I had with Alexis Wright," Strong said.

Strong, a married 57-year-old former private investigator who owns an insurance agency, said he and Wright had a casual relationship at the time of his arrest and he had only been to Kennebunk "a few times."

He denied he ever paid Wright for sex.

"We did have intimate moments but it's not what I would consider romantic," he said. "It was just physical."

Prior to that, Strong said had known Wright for about three or four years and she once worked for him as a private investigator assistant. He admitted he gave her a personal loan for her Zumba business and co-signed the lease for her Pura Vida Zumba studio.

"It started out as a business relationship," Strong said. "We had a friendship. We talked often. I may see her once a month."

Wright has been charged with operating a brothel, as well as 106 counts of prostitution, violation of privacy, tax evasion and other charges. Strong faces 59 misdemeanor charges, including promotion of prostitution and violation of privacy for allegedly video-recording the encounters between the alleged prostitutes and some prominent local men.

Prosecutors said they have 100 hours of video evidence and photos, some of which were seized from Strong's computer. Strong denied having any knowledge of that or having the materials in the first place.

Both Strong and Wright have pleaded not guilty to all the charges against them, and they stand to go to trial next week. Strong and his attorney said they also believe Wright is "innocent until proven guilty."

Lilley asked for the trial to be postponed. He requested a change of venue and for himself to be removed from the case because Strong cannot afford his representation. But Justice Nancy Mills denied all motions and the trial is scheduled to begin on Jan. 22.

The scandal unraveled this past summer when Kennebunk Police raided Wright's dance studio and a nearby office, where they confiscated detailed records and hours of video. Since then, the police have released a bi-weekly blotter on their website that documents arrests, complete with names, ages and home addresses.

More than 150 men -- and at least one woman -- are being investigated for whether they paid for sex at Wright's Pura Vida Zumba dance studio, and 66 men face misdemeanor soliciting charges.

In October, police released the names of 21 men accused of paying for sex with Wright. Among them were James Soule, a former mayor of South Portland, Maine, and Don Hill, who stepped down as hockey coach for Kennebunk High School after his name appeared on a client list. Both Soule and Hill have plead not guilty.

In an interview with Nightline on Friday, two attorneys representing the 21 men charged with misdemeanor soliciting staunchly defended their clients.

"Their lives have been turned upside down since their names were mentioned in a police blotter, which is evidence of nothing, but the mere allegation here has been enough to smear people's reputations," said criminal defense attorney Stephen Schwartz.

Gary Prolman, the lawyer for Don Hill, said his client believed he was in a relationship with Wright, not only seeing her at her studio but also at her home.

"His intension was to go for a massage in Kennebunk," Prolman said. "He and Ms. Wright, from his perspective, had a relationship."

When Nightline approached Wright at her home in October to ask about the allegations, she refused to speak on the matter.

"I have no comment," she said, before threatening to call the police and shutting the door.

Nightline also spoke to Wright's attorney, Sarah Churchill, in October, who said the ordeal had been tough on her client. She is adamant that Wright is innocent.

"There's been a lot of scrutiny on her," Churchill said. "Getting through the day in any sort of normal way has been sort of difficult."

Authorities said the Pura Vida Zumba dance studio is just a few miles down the road from the Bush family's exclusive summer compound where the whole clan still vacations. President George H.W. Bush still has a summer place there and it is where his son, President George W. Bush, spent his boyhood summers.

According to court documents, the landlord for Wright's studio called police after hearing unusual sounds coming from her office and seeing strange men come and go at all hours of the night.

Kennebunk-area resident Allison Ackley said she attended Wright's Zumba classes and didn't suspect what was going on.

"I thought she was a little, I don't know, not risque, but a little flirtatious at times with a couple of the male participants of the class," Ackley said of Wright. "But, I mean, it's Zumba. You're just in there to have fun."

Lilley and Strong again reiterated that Strong had done nothing wrong. Lilley compared his client's situation to a bank giving someone a personal loan and then that person using it to buy drugs.

"The bank is not responsible," he said. "We feel there is a good analogy there."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct172012

Zumba Sex Scandal: Former Maine Mayor Named as Alleged Client

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(KENNEBUNK, Maine) -- A former mayor of South Portland, Maine, is among the 21 men accused of paying for sex at a Maine Zumba studio run by instructor Alexis Wright, who has been charged with operating a prostitution ring out of her dance studio.

James Soule, 58, served as mayor of the town near the Kennebunk studio in 2008.  Soule, who is facing a misdemeanor soliciting charge, has not responded to requests for comment.

In a scathing statement overnight, Mark Strong, the man accused of booking clients at the Pura Vida Studio owned by Wright, 29, lashed out at investigators, accusing the Kennebunk police department of retaliation and unprofessional conduct.  Strong has pleaded not guilty to 59 misdemeanor charges.

"I never had sex with [Wright] for money," Strong wrote in a statement.  "The charges against me are untrue.  I will be vindicated in a jury trial."

Strong, 57, says he met Wright online and soon developed a personal relationship in which he helped her start a "legitimate business."

Police say Strong helped run Wright's alleged side prostitution business and helped video-tape her clients.  Prosecutors say they have 100 hours of video evidence.

Strong, an insurance agent, says he's also a private investigator, and that he began investigating Kennebunk police because the department was harassing Wright.

"The Kennebunk police department seized my computer, which contains multiple interviews of witnesses in that investigation," Strong wrote in his statement.

Police have not responded to inquiries about Strong's allegations.

Daniel G. Lilley, the attorney representing Strong, defended his client.

"From what he says, he's a good guy caught up in a bad situation," Lilley said.  "I think if you look at the theory that he was delving into their privacy, if that's true and its retaliation, then the answer's yes.  If not, then I don't know why they singled him out."

As the scandal unravels, there has been more fallout in the Maine vacation town after the release of a list of some of Wright's more than 100 alleged clients, which reportedly includes a lawyer, a forester and a real estate appraiser.

So far, 21 men have been charged with engaging in prostitution and have been summoned to appear in court.  They are among the more than 150 men -- and reportedly one woman -- who are being investigated.

A Maine judge on Tuesday cleared the way for police to release the ages and addresses of the first 21 names on the list.  Their ages range from 34 to 65, and most live in Maine, one in New Hampshire and one in Boston.

The 21 men have been summoned to appear in court on Dec. 5.  The full list can be seen here.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Oct122012

Zumba Sex Scandal: Judge Will Not Block Release of Client List

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(PORTLAND, Maine) -- A state judge in Kennebunk, Maine, decided Friday not to block the release of over 100 alleged clients of Alexis Wright, the 29-year-old Zumba instructor who is accused of running a prostitution ring out of her dance studio.

Police were prepared to reveal the first batch of identities of Wright's alleged clients, which normally would be made public in police activity reports released every other week. But on Thursday, defense attorneys representing some of the alleged clients asked a judge to block their release.

District Judge Andre Janelle quickly rejected their motion for a restraining order and a preliminary injunction, which he filed early Friday.

Stephen Schwartz, an attorney for the alleged clients, filed an appeal on Judge Janelle's decision, and that will be sent to the state Supreme Court.

There is speculation that the list contains the names of well-known locals, including prominent politicians, lawyers and law enforcement officers who allegedly frequented the brothel investigators say was run out of Wright's Pura Vida Studio. Wright allegedly had a video camera set up in the room to film the acts as well.

Based on information found during a search of the studio, police began issuing summonses to the alleged johns on misdemeanor charges of engaging a prostitute. As many as 45 men on the list have already been summoned.

Stephen Schwartz, an attorney for the alleged clients, said Thursday that releasing their names would harm the character of a number of the accused, which reportedly might include prominent politicians, attorneys and others.

"Releasing the list has the power to really destroy reputations," Schwartz said.

Wright, 29, refused to answer questions outside of court Tuesday after pleading not guilty to 106 counts including prostitution and invasion of privacy.

Police say that Mark Strong, 57, was in charge of booking Wright's alleged clients. Strong has pleaded not guilty to 59 misdemeanor charges.

Strong's lawyer, Daniel Lilley, admits that there is a list, but says his client had nothing to do with it.

"I'm told that there are police officers and firemen and accountants and TV personalities and lawyers," Lilley said. "It runs the gamut of Americana, I guess."

Bee Nguyen, the landlord for Wright's studio, called police after hearing unusual sounds coming from her office and seeing strange men come and go, according to court documents.

"I thought she was a little, not risqué, but a little flirtatious at times with a couple of the male participants in the class," Kennebunk resident Allison Ackley said.

Some men allegedly paid large sums of money for Wright's services.

"There's a separate list with names and certain codes that would seem to reflect sexual acts and amounts, attorney Lilly said."One case, I think the amount was $1,500."

Prosecutors say Wright recorded some of her encounters with the men, and say they have 100 hours of video evidence.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May152012

Legion of Christ Rocked by More Sex Charges

Image Source/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A prominent American priest in the Legion of Christ, a troubled Catholic order whose founder was denounced by the Vatican for sexual improprieties, has admitted having a sexual relationship with a woman and fathering her child.

Father Thomas Williams, who has appeared on CBS and NBC and was interviewed by ABC News for a 2010 report on the Legion, made the acknowledgement after an activist who had sought reform in the order contacted the Vatican with his suspicions.

"I am truly sorry to everyone who is hurt by this revelation," said Williams in a statement. He said that he would be taking a year's leave from his public duties "to reflect on my commitments as a priest."

According to the National Catholic Reporter, the Legion has confirmed that seven other priests are now being investigated for the alleged abuse of minors. The Legion has more than 800 priests.

The Legion of Christ was founded by Mexican priest Marcial Maciel in 1941, who built it into a powerful international order with 70,000 followers and many wealthy benefactors. Maciel, however, was accused of sexual abuse, drug abuse and of fathering multiple children with women in Europe and Mexico. In 2006, Pope Benedict banned Maciel from active ministry after 20 men testified that he had molested them when they were teens.

After Maciel's death in 2008, the Legion issued a public statement acknowledging "reprehensible actions" by its founder. The Vatican began investigating the Legion's finances. In 2010, the Vatican denounced Maciel and appointed an outsider to oversee the Legion and manage its reform. The Vatican said Maciel had committed "objectively immoral acts," committed "true crimes," and lived a "life without scruples or authentic religious sentiment."

The Legion's top official in North America sent a letter to members Tuesday after Williams made his public statement. "In the wake of all we have been through as a movement in the past several years, it won't surprise me if you are disappointed angry or feel your trust shaken once again," said Father Luis Garza.

Williams did not give an age or gender for his child or identify the mother. "A number of years ago I had a relationship with a woman and fathered her child," he said. "I am deeply sorry for this grave transgression and have tried to make amends....I am truly sorry to everyone who is hurt by this revelation, and I ask for your prayers as I seek guidance on how to make up for my errors."

The activist who alleged that Williams had fathered a child also claimed that Williams had been involved in sexual relationships with female students while stationed in Rome. Williams did not comment on those charges. Williams, a Michigan native, has appeared on CBS, NBC and other networks as a religion analyst and has authored more than a dozen books.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May082012

Secret Service Scandal: ‘Significant Gaps’ in Pentagon’s Handling?

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- After receiving a briefing Tuesday from Department of Defense officials on their investigation into alleged misconduct by Secret Service and military personnel in Colombia, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., says there were “significant gaps” in the Pentagon chain of command in handling the incident. Levin chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“The investigation has found gaps, some significant gaps, that existed in a number of ways,” Sen. Carl Levin said, ticking through the gaps as follows:

1. There was a failure to notify the chain of command of the assignment of certain personnel in their chain of command to Colombia.

2. There was a failure to notify the chain of command promptly of the events that took place in Colombia, including the decision to keep suspected people there. The Secret Service people were immediately sent back to the U.S., but the Department of Defense personnel who were suspected of misconduct were not.

3. The decision to keep those suspected personnel on the mission was made without the input of the higher-ups on the chain of command.

Levin said that the defense officials assured the senators Tuesday that the gaps would be “corrected.”

Levin was briefed along with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the ranking Republican on the committee, for over an hour by DOD officials on the status of their investigation into the incident.

The senators said the investigation is “basically complete.” They said that the Pentagon’s Southern Command, which oversees operations in South America, should be releasing a statement soon with its report and recommendations as to whether or not there should be charges of misconduct against the 12 members of the military involved in the scandal.

The senators said the investigation also shows that “to date there is no evidence of additional risk to the security of the president or the presidential party or to the summit,” Levin said.

McCain added that there were “no classified information or weapons” in the hotel in Cartagena, Colombia where the case began.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Jun112011

Anthony Weiner Seeks Professional Treatment

Alex Wong/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Rep. Anthony Weiner will not be in Washington when Congress reconvenes on Monday, as he says he is taking some time off to seek professional help.

This comes after Congressman Weiner admitted that he engaged in inappropriate electronic relationships with six women over a three year period.

A spokesperson for Weiner issued the following statement on Saturday:

“Congressman Weiner departed this morning to seek professional treatment to focus on becoming a better husband and healthier person. In light of that, he will request a short leave of absence from the House of Representatives so that he can get evaluated and map out a course of treatment to make himself well. Congressman Weiner takes the views of his colleagues very seriously and has determined that he needs this time to get healthy and make the best decision possible for himself, his family and his constituents.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio