News & Politics » Neighborhood News

False arrest: the dominatrix and the undercover cop

by

1 comment

One day last May, three undercover cops from the vice squad arrested Frances Monica Franson on charges of prostitution. Franson and one of the cops had sequestered themselves in a private north-side apartment. The cop asked for services, Franson stated her price, and money exchanged hands. "[Franson was] arrested after she offered to perform an act of sexual penetration (oral copulation) with [the arresting officer] for the sum of $400," the police report reads. It looked like a simple case.

Except Franson says she never made any such offer. Furthermore, she says, she's not a prostitute, but a "mistress specializing in dominatrix, the art of dominance." And while she may offer clients such services as strapping them to a leash and making them bark like dogs, she doesn't offer sex--oral or otherwise.

Since the arrest police have dropped all charges. But Franson is by no means satisfied. Earlier this month she filed a federal lawsuit against two of the arresting officers (Franson says she will add the third cop to the lawsuit as soon as she learns his name). It charges the officers with false arrest, false imprisonment, and slander and seeks $1 million for pain, suffering, and humiliation.

"They have lied about me and they have humiliated me," says Franson. "I'm a respectable businesswoman. I pay my taxes and I work within the law. I won't let them get away with this." Police officials won't comment on any part of the matter.

What may be one of the most unusual false arrest cases the city has ever faced is made even more interesting by the fact that Franson was once an undercover cop. According to letters of recommendation from past employers, one Frances Issari (Franson's maiden name) worked as a federal narcotics officer in the Virgin Islands, and later as an Alaska state trooper.

"I was good at undercover work, I liked the excitement," says Franson. "The key to good undercover work is to have a very vivid imagination."

She once posed as a photojournalist in an operation that busted several cocaine dealers. "[Franson] is a self starter and I found myself in the position of trying to slow her down so that I could keep up," her supervisor in Alaska wrote in a letter of recommendation. "She is resourceful and imaginative and I never doubted anything she told me."

In the late 1980s Franson moved to Seattle, married an engineering student, ran a boutique, and then opened an escort service. "We called it Bella Ragazza, which is Italian for beautiful girls," says Franson. "We had a no-sex policy. My girls never wore anything risque--always conservative suits or dresses down to the knees. I turned something that could have been shady into something legal."

In December of 1992 she moved to Chicago because her husband found work here. Soon thereafter she opened Mistress Ava's Professional Dominatrix Services. Franson's not certain as to why she opted for this trade, but she suspects it has something to do with the same "vivid imagination" that served her so well as an undercover cop. She boned up on the business, reading, among other things, a book on the life of the Marquis de Sade, the 18th-century French writer and libertine, who argued that since sexual deviancy exists in nature it must therefore be natural.

"I make no judgments about my clients," says Franson. "They are motivated to do things for reasons of their own, and I ask no questions. Most of them hold very successful supervisory positions and they spend their day telling other people what to do--until they come to me. When they come to me, I'm the mistress and I control the situation. For whatever reason, they feel a need to be dominated, and I service that need."

Her services cost about $225 an hour and vary according to the whims of the clients, though Franson says she enforces certain rules. "There's no contact of genitalia--none whatsoever. There's no penetration by any means. And there's no oral copulation. I have had oral copulation with only two men in my life; I find that a very personal act."

Other than that, the field's wide open. "There can be verbal role playing," Franson explains. "I'll come to the door and say, 'I'm a friend of your mother and your parents are out of town. Obviously you can't follow directions, because this room is a mess.' He'll say, 'Sorry, ma'am.' I'll say, 'Don't tell me you're sorry.' And I'll take him over my knee and spank him."

Another client had Franson put a leash around his neck and walk him like a dog. "I made him sit and beg and bark loud," says Franson. "If he's a bad doggy, I whip him. If he's a good doggy, I scratch his belly.

"Many clients want me to watch them dress in women's clothing. I offer personal shopping, where I'll go with them and help them buy their clothes. Some guys are into body worship. I lay it on the line with them--the only part of my body they can touch are my feet. They can kiss my feet. They can fondle my six-inch heels. They can even suck my shoes. But that's it."

Finally there are those who seek public humiliation. "We'll go to a restaurant," says Franson. "When the waiter comes over, they'll start to order, and I'll say, 'Shut up, stupid. You'll eat what I tell you. Haven't you learned who's in charge?' We've done this in some of the finest restaurants."

Franson dismisses any suggestion that she or her clients are deviants whose behavior should be outlawed. "We hurt no one," she says. "I spank hard, but I don't draw blood. I'm a professional. I know how to do it so there are no permanent markings and their wives won't know. I'm not sick."

Franson's troubles with the law began on May 6, when she received a call from someone who called himself Harold Breezy. "He said he was answering my ad in the Reader, and he wanted to schedule an appointment with me," says Franson. "I asked him to explain his interests, and he said he had no previous experience in dominatrix, but that he was interested in all the services I had listed in my ad."

They arranged to meet the following day at a building on the north side. "I should have suspected something because he seemed awfully nervous, and I know from my undercover days that you're always nervous before a bust," says Franson. "I asked him to pay me for a three-hour session. He asked how much, and I told him the price was $400. He said, 'Will you bring me to an orgasm?' I said no, but that he would enjoy the session because of the dramatics involved."

Breezy paid her the $400, and then asked, "Do I get a blow job with that, too?" says Franson. "I said, 'No, not at all.'"

At that point, Franson says, two men and a woman burst into the room. It turned out Breezy was an undercover cop, the men his partners, and the woman a defendant from another case on her way to central lockup.

"They said they were arresting me for prostitution, and they handcuffed me to the other woman and told us to sit on the sofa," says Franson. "They went through my bag, pulling out my props--whips, dresses, nipple clamps. [Breezy] kept asking me where the dildos and condoms were. I told him that I don't have them because they're not part of the services I provide.

"I asked them why weren't they going after people who are really involved in prostitution? They asked me if I knew anyone like that, and I told them of a business listed in the phone book that allegedly uses underage prostitutes. I don't know why I mentioned that business. It may look like I was trying to trade information for my release, but I wasn't. I was just acting out of stupidity and sheer panic. Then [one of the cops] really got nasty. He called me moronic and disgusting and sick. I broke into tears, and said, 'There, I'm humiliated. Are you happy?' It was strange; you could see in his face that he was happy. It was like he really did get off on it."

The police hauled Franson to central lockup, where she remained until 8 the following morning. "They said they couldn't release me until my fingerprints cleared," she says. "It was cold in the cell, but they wouldn't give me a blanket. I cried the whole time."

On June 22, Franson and "Breezy" talked on the phone. "I told him that I had hired a lawyer to represent me at my hearing, and he said not to bother because the charges were being dropped," says Franson. "I asked why, and he said he considered us even since I had helped him by telling him about the individual in the phone book. That really upset me, because I hadn't told them anything useful, and as far as I know they never arrested anyone."

Franson says she is pressing on with her suit so that her name will be cleared. "I never made any deals with them to have the charges dropped, just like I never offered him oral copulation," she says. "I've read the law, and I know there's nothing illegal about what I do. The police may not like it, but that's no reason to arrest me."

While her case sits in court, Franson has gone back to her business. "My clients know what happened and they support me. I make them happy, and as long as it's legal I won't stop."

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Nathan Mandell.

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

 

Add a comment