KENNEBUNK, Maine – Paul Main’s quiet evening was shattered by a phone ringing off the hook and a half-dozen TV crews showing up on his porch. Everyone wanted to know: Was he the same Paul Main who’s been accused of visiting a prostitute in Kennebunk?
The answer was no. But a decision to release the names of alleged prostitution clients without any ages or addresses has caused big problems for men who have the same names as the accused.
For weeks, rumors about a prostitution business have run rampant in this small New England town best known for its proximity to the Bush family summer compound in neighboring Kennebunkport.
On Monday, authorities released the first batch of names out of about 150 men accused of paying a Zumba fitness instructor for sex.
I don’t have a problem with releasing names. I think it’s a wonderful thing, but I’ll be darned if it’s right to do it in a shoddy manner, said Main, a retired spokesman and head of the detective division for the York County Sheriff’s Department.
The addresses, ages and other identifying information of the johns were withheld after a judge ruled that state law required them to be kept confidential because the alleged sexual encounters may have been videotaped, making the men potential victims of privacy invasion.
On Tuesday, Superior Court Justice Thomas Warren reversed his decision, ruling in favor of a request from a local newspaper seeking the release of addresses and other information.
Kennebunk police reissued the names with the added details. The revised list included former South Portland Mayor James Soule and suspects from more than a dozen towns in Maine. The men ranged in age from 34 to 65.
Before the extra information was released, the lack of addresses and dates of birth made it impossible to verify exactly who was among the accused. Most records released by police and courts have that information.
The AP declined to distribute the names until precise identities could be confirmed.
But many media outlets released the first list, causing problems for men like Main, whose name is shared by at least 20 others in Maine alone.
The town had been awaiting the release of the list since 29-year-old Alexis Wright was charged this month with engaging in prostitution in her dance studio and in an office across the street. Police said she kept meticulous records suggesting the sex acts generated $150,000 over 18 months.
Wright, from nearby Wells, has pleaded not guilty to 106 counts of prostitution and other charges.
Her business partner also pleaded not guilty to 59 counts.