Webmaster Faces Charges Over Zoning

Steve Javors
ENFIELD, Conn. — Dominatrix Michelle Silva, who owns and operates bondage and S&M website EmpressM.net out of her residence, has turned herself in to Connecticut police to answer charges of zoning violations.

Silva had obtained a permit for her business, and explained its adult nature to a zoning enforcement officer when applying for the permit.

Police began investigating Silva in January 2005 after receiving an anonymous letter about activities taking place within her house. Officers searched the house and seized fetish toys, bondage items and seven computers that were analyzed at a state police forensic computer lab.

Silva, who also operates FortressOfPain.com and NortheastGoddess.com proclaimed to be not guilty at the time. Two rooms in her house were converted into studios for filming.

“I understand what the charges mean, but I don’t understand how they apply to me,” Silva said. “The whole thing seems to be very underhanded.”

Police Chief Carl J. Sferrazza said the zoning count Silva faces is not a criminal charge.

“She was running a business out of her house, and it’s a violation of the zoning regulation to run this kind of business,” Sferrazza told the Hartford Courant. “She’s been talking very openly. We’re not going to respond to her in this venue. She makes claims that this isn’t really sexual conduct. We’re not going to get into that.”

Silva claims police made disparaging remarks about her lifestyle while raiding her home and did not show her a copy of the search warrant.

“At this point, I noticed there were two, possibly three dozen officers in the house,” Silva wrote on her website about the raid. “[Police] were making degrading and humiliating comments about the things they were taking. At the same time, we were being questioned by the officer who was guarding us about our fetish lifestyle.”

All three of Silva’s websites remain operational, but she claims to not produce any more videos from her house. At its peak, Silva’s sites made roughly $5,000 per month, she claims.