A high-profile prostitution scandal featuring sex videos, adultery, exhibitionism and in a small New England town drew to a close Friday when a Zumba fitness instructor was sentenced to 10 months in jail after telling the judge she was happy to have escaped her former life of crime.
Addressing the judge through tears, Alexis Wright said she felt relief when police raided her business on Feb. 12, 2012, because she wanted out.
"In my eyes I'm free. I free from this. And I have an incredible amount of strength that I knew was in me somewhere. Now that I have the strength I want to encourage others to come forward. I want them to know that there's at least one person out there who'll believe their story, no matter how crazy it seems," she told the judge.
The 30-year-old Wright was sentenced under a plea agreement to 20 counts including prostitution, conspiracy, tax evasion and theft by deception. Afterward, she was led from court to begin serving her sentence.
Her attorney, Sarah Churchill, told the judge that the defendant had a difficult childhood, witnessing domestic violence and suffering sexual abuse, before she met Mark Strong, who became her eventual business partner. She said Strong used her troubled background to manipulate her.
Justice Nancy Mills extended wishes for success after the sentence was formally imposed in Superior Court.
"Based on what you have to say and what I know about you from your attorney, I know that you will succeed when you're released and that you will prevail. I wish you success," Mills said.
The single mother Wright was accused of conspiring with an insurance business owner to run a prostitution business in which she videotaped clients without their knowledge and kept detailed records over an 18-month period indicating she made $150,000 tax-free. She also collected more than $40,000 in public assistance.
Her business partner, Strong, 57, was convicted of 13 counts related to promotion of prostitution and was sentenced to 20 days in jail. The married father of two, who has acknowledged having an affair with Wright, was originally charged with 59 counts.
Prosecutors say paid sex happened in her studio, apartment and an office, where tenants complained about moaning and groaning.
Electronic evidence was plentiful, Wright sent live video streams of sex acts to Strong. Videos also showed them speaking openly of ledgers, payments and scheduling.