The lurid case of sex, lies and videotape that thrust a quaint Maine town into the worldwide spotlight ended Friday with a 10-month sentence and $58,000 in fines and restitution for Alexis Wright, a Zumba instructor turned prostitute whose meticulous records included the names of up to 150 clients.
Maine Superior Court Justice Nancy Mills issued the sentence, which was based on a plea deal made by Wright's lawyers and state prosecutors two months ago.
But the case, which shocked residents in its size and scope, contained one last twist before coming to an end.
Wright, who had been virtually silent throughout the episode, told a story of sexual abuse by her father and claimed her convicted pimp and partner-in-crime, Mark Strong, tricked her into thinking she was working as a state spy exposing sexual deviants, through a memo issued by her lawyer.
Seth Koenig, who covered the case for the Bangor Daily News, says Wright's attorney acknowledged it was a 'far-fetched' seeming explanation.
"On the face of it, it does come across as ridiculous," he says. "But I have written stories before about human trafficking and prostitution, and I do understand that if you do have a history of being a victim of sexual abuse it can really distort your self-worth, your sense of reality, it can make a narrative like this a little bit more plausible."
Koenig says Mills, in handing down the sentence, seemed to imply the most grievous of Wright's crimes were defrauding the state to receive welfare and tax evasion, not the prostitution counts. Prosecutors and Wright's attorney had agreed to drop all but 20 of the 106 charges laid against her in exchange for the sentence.
Jim Burke, a law professor at University of Maine, says there's no surprise that the sentence was driven not by the prostitution charges.
"Prostitution, big whoop," Burke says. "Ripping off the government – that gets peoples' backs up."
Overall the case contained no serious legal questions, but gained notoriety because of the sensational subject matter, Burke says.
"It was sex in a small town, wow, it sells," he says. "The defense lawyers did a very good job of defending their client in a difficult situation and the judge did a very good job of controlling a difficult situation."
Wright worked out of her Zumba studio located in Kennebunk, a neighboring town to Kennebunkport where former President George H.W. Bush has a home. The small town has been overrun with reporters, documentary crews and rumors since the allegations were first made last year, but locals quickly grew tired of their presence.
"I had all I could handle trying to find people who would speak to me," Koenig says of his time reporting from the town earlier in the case. "They just were completely exhausted with the whole story."
Sarah Churchill, Wright's attorney, revealed Wright has been in counseling for the last six months, according to the Bangor Daily News.
"Not only does she have to deal with processing her childhood trauma and the trauma from this matter, but because some of the videos in this case were put on the Internet, she also has to face the fact that there are people out there viewing and profiting from this matter," Churchill's pre-sentencing memo said.
By accepting the plea deal, Wright was able to avoid the court reviewing videotapes, text messages and other evidence.
Strong was found guilty of 12 counts of promoting prostitution and one count of conspiracy to promote prostitution, according to news accounts. More than 60 people have been charged with paying for sex, including one woman.