The sex list that has brought fear and loathing to most exclusive resort in US
THE small, picturesque town of Kennebunk in Maine used to be known for little other than its proximity to Kennebunkport, the seaside home of George Bush Snr's summer retreat and a place where the former president spent much of his childhood.
Now, however, the town has found itself the focus of national media attention for rather more unwelcome reasons following a sex scandal that threatens to embarrass some of its most high-powered and respected individuals.
It began after Alexis Wright, a 29-year-old fitness instructor, was accused of moonlighting as a prostitute at the studio where she taught the Colombian dance programme, Zumba.
In a town of only 10,000 people, police claimed the premises had been frequented by up to 150 clients and that Ms Wright -- who is co-accused with businessman Mark W Strong Snr (57) -- apparently videotaped many of her encounters.
But events took a twist when police announced they would release a list of some of those who had used her services.
The move sent the small community into a state of feverish anticipation, with speculation rampant about who would be included.
As Kristen Schulze Muszynski, managing editor of the local 'Journal-Tribune' newspaper, told CNN: "Everyone wants to know who's on that list. You can't go anywhere without people bringing it up."
This week, they found out when police charged 21 men with "engaging in prostitution" and released their names.
To the dismay of residents, the list included a prominent lawyer, a local estate agent, a financial advisor and a former high school hockey coach.
Particularly striking was the inclusion of James Soule (58), a former mayor of nearby South Portland.
"He obviously feels terribly about this," Mr Soule's lawyer said yesterday. "The biggest impact of this is on his family and his friends. That's truly the most dreadful situation."
The scandal has cast a pall over the normally sunny resort.
"All of us who know and appreciate Kennebunk as the wonderful, family-oriented community it is are saddened by this situation," said town manager Barry A Tibbetts.
The publication of the names has caused controversy.
When they were released, they came with no other information such as the men's ages or addresses. It meant many innocent men found themselves being accused of involvement in a scandal they had nothing to do with.
These included Paul Main (65), who works for the sheriff's department in York County, which encompasses Kennebunk.
After the names were published, he was inundated with calls about the case. He had the misfortune to have the same name as one of those on the list. He spent Monday night and Tuesday trying to clear his name.
"I don't have a problem with releasing names," he said, "but I'll be darned if it's right to do it in a shoddy manner."
Stephen Schwartz, an attorney for two of those on the list, argued in court against releasing the names. He said: "The mere releasing of their names will have devastating consequences in a case in which the government, we believe, will have great difficulty proving."
The case is complex as the men on the list are charged with a crime and are suspects.
However, as some may have been videotaped by Ms Wright without their consent, they are also technically victims of invasion of privacy.
Others named on the list include real estate agent Gary D Bahlkow (57); lawyer Jens W Bergen (54); financier Joseph P Cuetara (63); Peter M Wormell Snr (61), a local restaurant owner; and Donald Hill (52), a former hockey coach at Kennebunk High School.
The men are charged with engaging in prostitution, which comes with a fine of $200 for first offenders and six months in prison for repeat offenders.
Ms Wright has denied 106 counts related to alleged prostitution. (© Daily Telegraph, London)