He was also beating up on Ginger. The abuse happened when he was drinking. Friends who came over to the Basses to throw horseshoes noticed Frank’s volatility and Ginger’s bruises. Said one friend, Ginger periodically gave Frank an ultimatum: stop drinking and stop roughing her up or else she’d end the marriage. For a while, he would. And Ginger would tell concerned friends “he’s changed.” Divorced once, she’d say, “I really want to make it work.” But nothing, not even Ginger’s forgiveness, could alter his nature.
Said a longtime buddy, Frank was into three things: “Frank, making money, and getting laid.” And more and more, a fourth — getting blind drunk.
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Frank’s son, Frank Jr., was living in the spare room at Cheryl Lee Court. Frank told a buddy in a January 2008 email that Ginger “asked me years ago to have him move out and move on.” He was still there after Ginger filed for divorce. Frank told his son that it “just might be a little bit better if he had his own place, soon — like real soon.”
Ginger wanted Frank Jr. out so her daughter Carolina, Carolina’s husband Charles Carstensen, and their child could stay with them. Frank described Carolina and her husband as “developmentally delayed,” a fact confirmed by several of the Basses’ friends. With Frank Jr. gone, Frank and Ginger bought a small motor home and moved it onto the property for the Carstensens to live in. Then Erica Bass moved into the spare bedroom in the house.
In November 2007, Ginger got busy harnessing the court system. She retained a lawyer, J.R. Givens of San Diego. The papers served, Frank got his own lawyer, James J. Albert of El Cajon. They were told to list their assets and concentrate on a fair division, so they could avoid a court battle.
In late 2007, the value of their Lakeside home was estimated at $650,000 with the mortgage at $445,000. They also owned another property in Lakeside as well as properties in Chandler, Arizona, and Austin, Texas. Subtracting the mortgages, their combined equity in these three places was about $200,000. The motor home on their lot was worth $15,000. Frank’s 2004 Toyota Tundra was valued at $16,000; he owed $6600 on it. Ginger’s 2004 Lexus was valued at $21,500; she owed $16,400 on it. They had individual retirement accounts worth almost $120,000 each. And they had about $10,000 in savings. The assets they would need to divide totaled $337,000, and Ginger proposed a settlement: she would write Frank a check for half of that. He would sign a quitclaim deed for the house, take the money and his tools, and move out.
Frank agreed. But he didn’t move out. He said that Ginger was allowing him to “continue living” at their Lakeside home until the fateful day, May 28. In a court document, Frank stated that “the reason for this agreement is that I work out of the home and it will take me time to find a new place to live and move my business.” He had “a large quantity of tools, spare parts and equipment in the home.… I need a residence with room for storage and room for a trailer.”
To friends, Frank was full of misgivings about Ginger’s decision. One email pal recalls that he and his buddies would exchange pictures of “scantily clad women,” with Frank lamenting “how much he loved Ginger and how much better looking she was than” the women in the photos. Evenings, he would drink. “He would come back the next day and apologize for being drunk the night before and ask us to forget his comments.” At one of Ginger’s Re/Max Christmas parties that December, Frank was so drunk he started dancing lewdly. Ginger asked a friend to drive her home.
A close friend of Frank’s described to me their many problems. The first misery, detailed by Ginger and Frank in separate emails, was Frank’s womanizing. Ginger said that each time Frank was caught having an affair, he would apologize and promise that was the last. Frank wrote that “I still love Ginger more than I will ever love another woman, and I know she still loves me but probably not as much anymore. But since I have betrayed her I cannot expect her to stay with me.”
The second misery was that a drunken Frank would, according to the friend, “force himself upon her against her will.” He asked Ginger several times, “ ‘Why do you allow that?’ Ginger said, ‘When he is drunk and he gets that look in his eye, he scares me to death and I dare not tell him no.’ ” The friend couldn’t believe it: “This is not the Frank I know,” he told her. “And she said, ‘I know. He’s a completely different person when he’s drinking.’ ”
According to Ginger, the bottom fell out on March 2, 2008. That Sunday, she and Frank “went out together for the evening,” she wrote in a chilling statement to the court. “Frank was intoxicated. My sister and her husband were staying with Frank and I and they were sleeping in the guest bedroom. I went to sleep on the couch. Frank got angry at me and began to yell at me. I went into the bedroom and shut the door. Frank pushed the door open and threw me up against a wall.
“A few days later I was getting out of the shower when Frank grabbed me and threw me on the bed. I told Frank no several times and asked him not to touch me. He took off my clothes and raped me. The following morning I asked Frank not to rape me ever again, and he said, ‘It’s not rape. You enjoyed it.’
“Frank threatened to rape me several times after that. When I would ask Frank when we were going to discuss the divorce he would tell me that we could discuss it in bed. Frank went so far as to send me an email saying, ‘The covers are pulled back.’