MANCHESTER — Cpl. Christopher Mason, who has resigned from the Manchester Police Department after accusations of domestic assault, said in a Facebook post that he’s the victim.
Mason, 41, was charged Oct. 8 with three counts of domestic assault and three counts of cruelty to a child, as well as one count of reckless endangerment by the Dover Police Department.
According to Manchester Town Manager John O’Keefe, Mason was served with a restraining order, prompting an internal investigation that was conducted by the Dover Police Department.
“We gained knowledge about the restraining order that was filed,” O’Keefe said. “Because of the conflict, we assigned that out externally and that’s where the charges came from.”
The Dover PD internal investigation was completed and the results returned to Manchester. But the Dover investigator also determined that charges were called for and flash cited Mason into Bennington Criminal Court.
According to a five-page affidavit signed by Detective Rebecca Morris, she was assigned the case Sept. 30 and met with the woman who filed for the protective order.
In the course of the investigation, Morris met with the accusor who said that Mason had been exhibiting rage and violence for years.
She related several occurrences over the past 10 years including a time about a decade ago when he worked for another police agency in which he blocked her car with his cruiser to prevent her from leaving.
Another time, she alleges, he put a handcuff on her wrist when she said she was going to leave and then chased her into the bathroom and put his forearm on her neck preventing her from breathing. She said he called her profane names and spit in her face and told her she had nowhere to go.
She said Mason often broke things, punched walls and kicked in doors.
She related multiple incidents in which she accused Mason of violence against several kids, including whipping a child with a wet dish cloth that left welts, hitting a child with a ladle on the back leaving a welt and bruise, grabbing them by their arms, necks and, one time, kicking and kneeing a kid in the butt.
There are also allegations of name-calling, shaming and intimidation.
Morris wrote that interviews with the children detailed in the affidavit matched the various accounts given.
The woman said she suffered from anxiety and extreme stress.
Morris said Mason met her at the Manchester Police Station on Oct. 8 and he was placed under arrest.
Morris said Manchester Police Chief Patrick Owens, with Mason’s consent, removed two handguns and two rifles from Mason’s home, including a Taurus handgun, LCP handgun, an AR semiautomatic rifle and a 9mm carbine rifle.
Mason was handcuffed and transported to Winhall Police Department, read his Miranda rights, which he did not waive.
He was then issued conditions of release including to not have contact or harass in any way the woman making the accusations or any of the children involved. He is also not allowed to buy, have or use any firearms or other deadly weapons.
He was fingerprinted, photographed and released.
O’Keefe said he couldn’t reveal the results of the internal investigation.
“He’s no longer employed by the town,” O’Keefe said.
O’Keefe added that Mason was immediately put on paid leave and was not in uniform or on duty during the internal investigation.
Reached by email Tuesday, Mason said he had been advised by his attorney not to discuss the issue.
Mason addressed the issue when he posted on his Facebook account on Oct. 9, writing “Yesterday my life changed forever…”
“Today is my day at the guillotine. I’m sure you may read some stories in the newspaper in the days to come. But it is important for everyone to know that what you may hear or read is completely FALSE.”
And, it concludes: “All I ask of the people who know me is this...Before anyone passes inevitable judgment, PLEASE make your own assessment. Talk to the people who know the truth. I am not looking for a pity party. Just know there is evil out there that is very good at disguising itself.”
Mason also apologizes in the post to “my colleagues for what happened yesterday. You have shown me an uncanny amount of support. Be safe out there, much love.”
Mason began his career with the Rutland County Sheriff’s Department in 2005 and spent time with the Woodstock Police Department and Windsor County Sheriff’s Department before joining the MPD.
With the Manchester Police Department, he was a field training officer, an ALICE trainer teaching students and adults how to deal with an active shooter situation and led the department’s National Night Out event.
Mason is due in court Nov. 18 for a motion hearing.
An email from Manchester Police Department Chief Patrick Owens said that O’Keefe was handling the issue from a personnel standpoint, and O’Keefe said that, as town manager, he makes personnel decisions.
“State law delegates all appointment of town police officers to the town manager,” O’Keefe said.
O’Keefe said that Mason’s performance on the job was never questioned and there was nothing in his personnel file that would have indicated a problem.
“He was a good employee,” O’Keefe said. “There were no employment or service issues.”
O’Keefe said that “while we’re obviously disappointed, I’m satisfied with the process we went through.”
Anyone dealing with domestic violence can receive help. Call Project Against Violent Encounters hotline: 802-442-2111.