Anthony Mason of the Charlotte Hornets was arrested late Saturday on two counts of third-degree rape of two teen-age girls.
His lawyer, Frank Rothman, anticipating the arrest all day, insisted his client was innocent. Mason was arrested after five hours of questioning by detectives.
"There will be scientific evidence that will vindicate Anthony," Rothman said. "He's a target for people like this," Rothman said.
Mason, 31, and a friend, William Duggins, 24, were each charged with two counts of statutory rape in the attack on two girls, 14 and 15, on Friday night, said Mary DeBourbon, a spokeswoman for Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown.
Mason and his friend met the sisters at a charity basketball game at York College in Queens, said the spokeswoman.
The Daily News reported in its Sunday editions that the alleged attack took place in a limousine after the game. The girls told an older sister about the alleged attack, the paper said.
After the girls were treated at a Queens hospital, nurses reported the suspected sexual attack to police.
"We will fight this to the bitter end," Rothman said prior to Mason's arrest.
Mason, a former New York Knicks star who was born and raised in Queens, was at a small party at a private home in the Laurelton section Friday night with about 10 other people, according to Rothman.
He said the two girls told police Mason and one other person at the party had sex with them.
Rothman said he talked to Mason and the basketball player's agent in a conference call Saturday morning, and said Mason was eager to talk to police.
"He told me he has nothing to hide," said Rothman. "He said, "Where should I be and when?"'
Rothman told ABC Radio Sports that "based on the nature of the complaint, police are obligated to make an arrest."
Mason was traded by the Knicks to Charlotte in 1996. He pleaded guilty in November 1997 to disorderly conduct after scuffling with a police officer in Times Square in July 1996. He paid a $250 fine and apologized to the police. He originally faced felony assault charges that could have brought up to seven years in prison.
Mason was in town to see his family, Rothman said.
The NBA is on a weekend break for the All-Star game, which will be played Sunday night at Madison Square Garden.
Mason's agent, Don Cronson, would not comment on the complaint.
"We're trying to ascertain what really happened," he said.
NBA commissioner David Stern refused to comment, saying "it's somewhat premature."
Written by Dino Hazell Associated Press Writer
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