Saturday, October 8, 2005

Everybody in Maine Knew It Except Them

One of the minor guilty pleasures we have had in Maine in recent weeks has been the trial of Gary Reiner. The lawyer and former Kittery Town Council chairman was convicted on September 30th on charges involving prostitution and money-laundering in Kittery.

Now the Kittery Town Council has requested that the Maine Attorney General's office conduct an open-ended and wide-ranging investigation into connections between town employees and officials and the workings of the club.

Town Council Chairwoman Ann Grinnell told the newspaper that when she and other town officials met with Rowe on Tuesday in Augusta, they asked him to "look at the things that came up in the Gary Reiner case, to put a spotlight on some of our town employees and some town officials -- how did that (the club) survive for all those years in this town?"

The best characterization of this request comes from the Portsmouth Herald's editorial:

Now, as details of the alleged illegal activities come to light in federal court in Portland, it is hard not to think of Capt. Louis Renault in the movie "Casablanca" who exclaims: "I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here."

Despite protestations by the local police, there can be no doubt that if they wanted to create problems for the Danish Health Club, they could have. But Kittery Police Chief Edward Strong has admitted the goings-on at the health club were a low priority for local police. He described all the criminal activities as misdemeanors, not worth the time or the effort to curb.

In fact, the last raid and arrest at the DHC took place in 1984, shortly before Strong became chief, and there hasn’t been an arrest made at the alleged brothel since.

I attended Bowdoin College in Brunswick from the fall of 1987 till the spring of 1991. DHC was one of the "road trip" destinations that everyone on campus joked about. And some of the jock-filled fraternities actually went to. There's no doubt in my mind that each and every adult inhabitant of the greater Kittery and Portsmouth area knew what was going on there.

The Portsmouth Herald editorial rightly notes the good success that some other areas of the country and the world have had in decriminalizing prostitution. It makes it safer for the workers, for the clients, and tends to keep organized crime out of the picture. Maine should look into this.



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