NBA's Mason Hit With Sex Rap Ex-Knicks Star Denies Tale Of Tryst With Teens
By PETE DONOHUE, CHRISENA COLEMAN, PATRICE O'SHAUGHNESSY and Mike Claffey
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS Feb 08, 1998 at 12:00 am
Basketball star Anthony Mason was charged with statutory rape yesterday after two underage sisters said they had consensual sex with him, the Queens district attorney said last night. Mason, 31, a former Knicks forward who now plays for the Charlotte Hornets, went to the 112th Precinct stationhouse in Forest Hills for questioning about 6 p.
m., accompanied by four lawyers and others. Five hours later, Mason was charged with two counts of third-degree rape, according to Mary de Bourbon, a spokeswoman for Queens District Attorney Richard Brown. Mason, who grew up in Queens and has had several well-publicized run-ins with the law before, remained in police custody last night, pending arraignment today.
Mason said nothing as he was led out of the stationhouse in handcuffs to go to Central Booking early this morning. Mason's lawyer Frank Rothman said, "My client is absolutely innocent. . . . He absolutely denies having any sexual relations with either of those women and is willing to give up blood to prove it.
" The allegations come at a time when thousands of National Basketball Association fans and dozens of hoops stars are in New York for today's All-Star Game. Sources close to the investigation said Mason met the girls, 14 and 15 years old, at a charity basketball game at York College in Jamaica on Friday night. The sources said Mason and long-time friend Will Duggins, 24, left with the sisters in a limo while Mason's friends followed in another car. Duggins also was charged with third-degree rape.
Law enforcement sources said Mason had sex with the 15-year-old in the limo on the way to a house in Queens. At the house, Mason and the younger girl had sex while Duggins and the sister had sex, sources said. They then reportedly traded partners. The girls were then driven home by friends of Mason. When the girls' sister was told what had allegedly happened, she took the girls to a hospital, sources said. The staff learned that the girls had sex with older men and called police. Sacramento Kings guard Mitch Richmond, in town for the All-Star events, said he had heard that Mason faced arrest, noting that bad news travels fast along the NBA grapevine. "It's just a bad situation right now," Richmond said. "I'd really rather not comment on it.
" Mason, who hails from Springfield Gardens, spent five years with the Knicks before being traded to the Hornets in 1996 for forward Larry Johnson. Mason has racked up a string of off-court fouls, most involving nightclub fights. He was charged in July 1996 with brawling with cops in Times Square over a parking ticket. One of the injured cops was later accused of trying to shake down Mason for a six-figure sum to stop a lawsuit. In 1996, Mason was sued for $54 million by China Club patrons who say he beat them up. A New Jersey woman also sued him, claiming he struck her in the eye at the same nightspot, and he was accused of attacking a patron in a brawl outside the Crane Club. In 1994, he was sued by an upper East Side restaurant patron, who says Mason punched and kicked him. He was arrested in 1989 on a felony gun-possession charge.
AT-A-GLANCE FOUL TROUBLE Anthony Mason has run afoul of the law before. Among the earlier incidents: July 24, 1996: Mason is arrested on assault charges for allegedly brawling with cops in the Times Square area over a traffic ticket. Mason later pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and paid a $250 fine. April 30, 1996: Mason is named in a $54-million lawsuit by three patrons of the China Club on the upper West Side who say the Knick and three club workers beat them last summer. April 16, 1996:
At the China Club, Mason runs into trouble when a New Jersey woman, Darlene Bonilla, 25, said he struck her in the left eye. She filed a lawsuit last year. Feb. 6, 1996: Knicks benchwarmer Anthony Tucker is charged with allegedly punching a cop outside a midtown birthday party for singer Bobby Brown. Cops say Mason was on the street but not involved. Jan. 22, 1996: A patron of the Crane Club accuses Mason of attacking him in a brawl outside the upper West Side nightspot. Robert Towns tells cops Mason was among several people who beat him in a 4 a.m. fight.
Mason denies hitting anyone. Dec. 6, 1994: Mason is sued for $25 million by Queens electrician Thomas Loughlin following a November brawl at One Fish Two Fish Restaurant, an upper East Side club. Loughlin says Mason punched him in the jaw and kicked him several times.