Northland sex offender is accused of coaching youth basketball team

Clay County authorities have accused a registered sex offender of coaching a youth basketball team in violation of state law.

In 2001, Darin Lance Mason, 46, of Lake Waukomis, pleaded guilty in Platte County Circuit Court to second-degree statutory rape and second-degree statutory sodomy for having sex with a 15-year-old player on his girls basketball team at Oak Park High School.

As a result of that conviction, Mason has to register as a sex offender. A Missouri law passed in 2009 prohibits certain registered sex offenders from serving as an athletic coach, manager or trainer for any sports team with members younger than 17.

In the criminal charges filed Monday, Mason is accused of coaching a boys team during a March 15 game at William Jewell College.

Mason pleaded not guilty to the felony during an initial arraignment hearing Tuesday in Clay County Associate Circuit Court. He was released on a $5,000 bond. His next court hearing is set for June 13. His attorney, John P. O’Connor, declined to comment Tuesday.

According to the new allegations, Mason and another man were on the sideline providing direction to the team March 15. It appeared that Mason was acting as one of two coaches. Authorities later obtained a photograph and video of Mason coaching the KC Pumas sixth- and seventh-grade boys team.

While on the sidelines, Mason frequently stood and shouted directions to the players, according to court records. During timeouts, Mason appeared to instruct KC Pumas players in the huddle, the records stated.

Prosecutors also said that during a timeout, Mason pulled out a white dry-erase board from a bag and talked to players. After KC Pumas won the game, according to court records, Mason got in line with Pumas players and exchanged hand slaps with players from the opposing team. He then hugged a referee, court records said.

Subsequently, Mason motioned for Puma players to huddle around him while he spoke to them. He initiated having the players put their hands in the center of the huddle and yell the team’s name, according to court records.

Following the 2001 conviction, Mason was sentenced to 10 days in jail and placed on two years’ probation. He also lost his state teaching certificate. After Mason completed his probation, a judge suspended Mason’s sentence, but he still is required to register as a sex offender.

Mason founded the Pumas basketball program in 2004, which later attracted more than 100 participants. In recent years, Mason had boys and girls teams. He told The Star in a 2011 interview that he did not consider himself a coach but a “consultant” who taught basketball fundamentals to youths.