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At the same time, Barclay believes that Keenan did engage in "some inappropriate behavior with a girl who was fifteen," he says. "It may not be criminal, but it's totally unethical." And on at least one occasion, the alleged behavior took place in front of other witnesses--including James Mason.
According to Mason, his girlfriend Eva returned to Las Animas in March and quickly found out about the other girl's nude photo session with Mason. In spite of this, "the two girls got to be good friends," he says, and for a brief time, "it was the three of us constantly together."
The other girl dropped by his house frequently to see Eva, Mason insists, and she was often joined by Robert Keenan. "It would be Keenan and her and me and Eva--like a couple of couples, a double date or something."
In her complaint, the girl described only one such gathering at Mason's house, but it was a memorable one. She was "staying over with Eva" one night, she wrote, when Keenan and another Las Animas police officer, Darrel Bogart, stopped by. Soon everyone was drinking pina coladas and vodka pops. (As Mason recalls it, Bogart declined to drink because he was going on duty soon; Bogart, who no longer works for the Las Animas police, couldn't be reached for comment.)
The girl excused herself to put on a short dress because "Bob and Bogart never seen me in a dress." When she returned, she wrote:
I had a sunburn that night so I asked Bogart to put some lotion on me and he did on my shoulders. Bob put it on my chest and on my legs. While Eva and I were drinking we got in an argument over whose [breasts] were bigger. So I unbuttoned my dress and showed them my chest...Bob and Bogart said that my breasts were nice looking. Eva didn't show her chest she chickened out. When I was sitting on Bob's lap we kissed.
If Mason had any qualms about serving booze to minors in the presence of two police officers, he's never admitted it. "I didn't think there was a problem," he says now. "I mean, what are they going to do? I knew they were cops. They were in it with me; they're doing it, too."
Yet the lotion-and-smooching party apparently provided the police with all the additional "evidence" they needed. A few days after the party, on March 30, Mason and Eva walked to the local Val-U-Med Healthmart pharmacy to drop off some film for processing--pictures of Eva in a new dress.
Two police officers, neither of whom had ever partied at Mason's house, arrested him inside. On the warrant, the complainant was identified as Officer Robert Keenan.
"When I saw that," Mason recalls, "I just laughed and said, `You've got to be kidding.'"
Mason's downward spiral was just beginning. He spent the next month in jail, trying to get his bond reduced. Meanwhile, the police had spent hours hauling hundreds of pounds of suspected evidence from his house, and District Judge Robert Blackburn had ordered Eva, one of the alleged victims in the case, to vacate Mason's residence.
"Not a whole lot" of the materials seized from the house turned out to be relevant to the case, Jones admits. Aside from the nude photo session with the fifteen-year-old, some semi-nude photos of Eva and an album of photos that seemed to be related to Mason's previous bust in Ohio, investigators found nothing that remotely resembled child pornography. The vast majority of the materials seized were horror videos, Nazi and Manson literature, adult erotica and "stuff that was just weird," says Jones.
Still, Jones is convinced that investigators found "just the tip of the iceberg. He had volumes of this stuff back in Ohio, and they only stuck him with two misdemeanors there," he says. "What concerned us is that he was starting the same thing here, and who knows where it would take him?"
Mason insists he has never taken photos of girls younger than fifteen and that he had "nothing harder than a Hustler" on the premises. "I've never messed with kiddie porn," he says. "But they're trying to give me this jacket."
When he was finally released on bond in May, Mason's problems quickly multiplied. Eva had moved into the carriage house behind Mason's place and was hanging out with a crowd closer to her own age, including ninteen-year-old Chris Cardenas. Agitated, Mason made a series of phone calls to Eva, taunting and upbraiding her for having a "brown boyfriend."
Mason says now that Eva was taping his calls, trying to get him to say something incriminating. Cardenas says Mason tapped into Eva's phone, in violation of federal law. In any event, Mason had been out of jail scarcely three weeks when he confronted the couple while they were sitting in Cardenas's truck on the other side of a fence from Mason's backyard. Mason made a crude remark about condoms, pulled one out and then patted his pocket, where he kept a .25 automatic pistol.
Mason says he never drew the weapon, but Cardenas remembers the incident quite differently. "He pulled out the gun and pointed it toward us, but not directly at us," he says. "He said he'd use it if we came over the fence."