CPD: Registered offender arrested after involving teen in three-person sex

City police arrested a previously-convicted sex offender Tuesday for having sex with an underaged girl as part of a three-person intercourse session, according to the department.

James R. Keeney, 30, of 179 Homer Avenue Apt. 11, was arrested at 1:15 p.m. Tuesday at the Cortland Police Department following an interview with an investigator, said Lt. Michael Strangeway. 

Keeney had sexual relations with a 16-year-old girl and an 18-year-old woman at the same time on Nov. 29, Thanksgiving weekend, at his residence, said Strangeway. Police were notified on Dec. 16 after a person left an anonymous tip on a child abuse hotline and started an immediate investigation, he said.

Both knew Keeney, but neither was involved in a romantic relationship with him before the incident, said Strangeway.

The woman was not charged as she did not receive or perform sexual activities on or with the girl, only with Keeney,  he said.

No weapons, drugs, blackmail or obvious coercion were used against the girl or woman to make them engage in the activities, said Strangeway. 

Keeney was convicted in May 4, 2010 of misdemeanor sexual contact for sexually touching with an 11-year-old he knew in 2008 in Cayuga County, according to the state sex offender registry. Keeney was sentenced to six years of probation and was considered a Level 2 sex offender, meaning he was determined by a judge to have a “moderate” risk of committing another sexual crime, according to the registry.

As a sex offender, Keeney was required to check-in periodically with the Cortland Police Department. “We didn’t have any violations against him,” said Strangeway.

Keeney was remanded to jail without bail at his second arraignment at 2:30 this afternoon at City Court. Only Cortland County Court has the authority to release him as Keeney was previously convicted of two felonies and could face a sentence of 20-25 years or life in prison if he is convicted for a third felony, according to state penal law.

“This is (potentially) three strikes therefore a mandatory remand out of this court,” said Thomas Turturo, Keeney’s court-appointed defense attorney, this afternoon in City Court.

Turturo stated he intended to apply for a bail review application before Christmas in Cortland County Court.

Keeney stated in court he thought his release was unlikely.

Judge Lawrence J. Knickerbocker emphasized to Keeney he is “obligated” to return at 10:15 a.m. Jan. 13 to City Court virtually should he be released after the County Court hearing.

During the court hearing, Keeney stated that a third woman — Ashley Benjamin — was his girlfriend.

In a phone interview with this reporter, a woman identified herself as Ashley Benjamin and confirmed she is dating Keeney.

At first Benjamin denied knowing about Keeney’s interactions with the underaged girl and the other woman, but then amended her statement.

“I knew, but then I didn’t know if it was true,” Benjamin stated. “I didn’t know what to believe.”

Benjamin expressed that she thought the woman involved in the case should be charged alongside Keeney.

“I don’t think that’s fair,” she said. “She should have been charged as well.”

Benjamin stated her intention to “stand by his side” through Keeney’s court case.

Keeney was charged with two felonies, third degree rape and third-degree criminal sex act, as well as three misdemeanors — third-degree sexual abuse, sexual misconduct and endangering the welfare of a child.