By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
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The couple retreated and called the police, and Mason was soon back in jail on a charge of felony menacing.
Cardenas says he still receives copies of letters Mason has written denouncing Eva and her "race treason." "He makes copies of these letters and sends them to all these important people," he says. "He's cutting her down, saying she was dating a `spic' and that it was wrong."
Mason wasn't the only Las Animas man experiencing female troubles that summer. In July, Eva's friend, accompanied by her mother, handed a Bent County sheriff's deputy her complaint against Robert Keenan. The mother said her daughter was willing to take a polygraph to prove she was telling the truth.
Sheriff Spencer declines to speculate on the girl's motive in filing what he considers to be "nothing more than an unsubstantiated allegation." One possible explanation is in the statement itself, which suggests that Keenan promised the girl a more intimate relationship when "the nude case" was over, but then reneged on that promise.
"She was lied to, used and used up," Mason says, "and she was probably feeling a bit unhappy about it. I'm not a moralist, but he was lying to these girls and using them."
Prosecutor Jones, though, says that the girl's mother--a former law enforcement officer herself--was outraged that Keenan hadn't notified her as soon as he learned of the existence of the nude photos and had allowed the girl to continue to associate with Mason. "It wouldn't surprise me if all this had been put in her head by her mother to get even with Robert Keenan," Jones says.
Jon Barclay doesn't think so. Although his investigation didn't result in criminal charges, the former Trinidad district attorney believes that the girl did have a relationship with Keenan--and that Keenan attended a party where alcohol was served to minors. Barclay recommended that the case be turned over to the Las Animas police internal affairs officer for further inquiry into possible ethical violations. "I am disturbed that a police officer would engage in such activity," Barclay wrote in a letter to Bent County district attorney Gary Stork.
Las Animas officials refuse to discuss whether such an investigation took place, or what the results might have been. They also won't say whether Keenan left the city police force "by mutual agreement," as Sheriff Spencer claims, or was fired. In fact, they decline to discuss any aspect of Keenan's association with the police department, including his dates of employment, citing a mysterious "contractual arrangement" Keenan apparently reached with the city upon his departure.
"I'm not at liberty to discuss it," says Las Animas city attorney Phil Malouff. "Nor are any city employees. The city of Las Animas cannot discuss it. We contractually agreed not to discuss it."
Asked if the city's deal with Keenan involved any additional compensation or a release of liability of some kind, Malouff snaps, "I can't give you any information at all. If I explain to you why, then I've breached the very thing that prohibits me from answering the question."
And what if such an agreement is in violation of the state's open-records laws? "So be it," Malouff says.
While Keenan may have emerged unscathed by the allegations, they put a noticeable kink in the already problematic case against Mason. "It sure didn't help," recalls Jones, who left the district attorney's office last spring and now works for the Colorado Compensation Insurance Authority. "It put things on hold, and it was something we had to disclose, and the public defender seized on it, appropriately."
Faced with an ambiguous case, a paucity of kiddie porn, reluctant or unreliable witnesses and claims of inappropriate behavior by the lead officer in the case, the district attorney's office ultimately dropped the exploitation charges in return for a plea of guilty to the menacing charge. This past spring, Mason was sentenced to three years in prison.
District Attorney Stork defends the plea bargain. "We wanted to get a felony charge, the attorney got a felony charge, and he considered it appropriate, considering the circumstances," Stork says.
Mason also seems oddly pleased with the outcome--possibly because he was facing up to 32 years in prison on the exploitation charges. Instead, he's looking at a parole hearing as early as next spring. Having done time in his youth for a racially motivated assault as well as for the more recent misdemeanors in Ohio, he's acquired a certain appreciation for prison life and speaks highly of the Arrowhead minimum-security camp.
"Some folks pay big bucks to retire to places not nearly as nice as this," he says, "so I'm not exactly sweating it."
He also expresses relief that he's in prison for waving a gun at two teenagers, rather than for a sexual-exploitation rap; many of his associates in the "movement" consider child pornography to be an unworthy pursuit for the master race.
"Anybody aspiring to a revolutionary position has got to expect to be in prison sooner or later," Mason says. "If I have to be in, I'd rather be in on the charge I'm here for, having confronted what we call racial treason. I think I have a few more credentials now."