By Joel Warner
By Michael Roberts
By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
"He told me, `I like your politics; your old lady told me all about you,'" Mason says. "The glowing reports of me he had supposedly gotten from my ex were more than incongruous, as the woman hated my guts. Still, I allowed him to ingratiate himself. And he certainly kept the local punks off the deer in my yard."
How much Keenan knew about Mason's activities at this point is unclear, but before long the whole town had some inkling of his passion. In December a striking-looking fifteen-year-old girl named Eva showed up in Las Animas. She wore Doc Martens and dark clothes and dyed her long hair jet black. She seemed to have a strong interest in serial killers and National Socialism, had once been engaged to a well-known satanist musician and had left her home in California to live with James Mason. He described her as the daughter of an old friend and as "my mistress Eva," a phrase that conjured up images of Hitler and his Eva.
According to Mason, Eva had come across a collection of Mason's Siege writings and had struck up a correspondence. "She sent me some very nice photographs of herself," he says. "They weren't explicit, but they were provocative. I was looking for someone to live with me, and hey, she was a good-looking Movement girl--what more could you ask for?"
Still, Mason's relationship with Eva was a rocky one, and she was frequently out of town. Late in January 1994, around the time of her sixteenth birthday, she appeared on Sally Jessy Raphael's talk show to discuss her obsession with serial killer Richard Ramirez and got into a shoving match with another of Ramirez's female fans--a fight that a producer described as "too violent and sensational" to air. Despite the brawl, her appearance led to an invitation to appear on The Bertice Berry Show to talk about Charlie Manson.
Eva was still out of town in February, when Mason became involved with another fifteen-year-old girl--the one who would figure so prominently in the investigation. Mason says he ran into the girl at a local restaurant and mentioned that he had pictures of her now-absent father, a former "drinking buddy" of his. She came over that night with an eighteen-year-old male friend, ostensibly to see the photos.
"She and this boyfriend came over around eleven," Mason says. "They'd already been drinking--in fact, I think they had some booze with them. I showed her the pictures of her father, and the topic of photography and modeling came up, and--boom. I didn't have to talk anybody into anything. I didn't have to ply anybody with any liquor. She said something about nude pictures, and I'm telling you what, her clothes were off, just like that."
While the boyfriend watched, the girl "started draping herself over the furniture," and Mason clicked away. "She got rid of her boyfriend later that night and we did a little kissing and petting, but that was the extent of it," he adds.
A few days later, when the girl asked him for prints of the photo session, Mason apparently began to have second thoughts about what he'd done. His Ohio experience had taught him to be wary of letting the evidence out of his sight--but not wary enough.
He gave the girl the photos, and she gave them to Robert Keenan. According to her statement, she was already meeting "Bob" for late-night kisses at the police station, and after she gave him the nude pictures, "Bob was really nice and caring more than before."
Under Colorado law, it's not illegal for an adult to have sexual intercourse with a fifteen-year-old. However, taking explicit photographs of anyone under the age of eighteen--what the statute calls "erotic nudity"--is a Class 3 felony, punishable by up to sixteen years in prison.
"The whole statutory regimen concerning sex crimes is a little scattered," notes former La Junta prosecutor Jones. "Basically, for sexual assault on a child, it has to be a child under the age of fifteen. You can't get child abuse on a child over sixteen. Sexual exploitation is a child under eighteen. Between eighteen and twenty-one, there's still a problem, particularly with incest. If you want to have sex with your stepdaughter and she's not over twenty-one, good luck."
The penalties for sexual assault on a child are more severe if the perpetrator is in a position of trust, a designation that includes guardians, physicians and therapists--but not police officers. "A cop wouldn't be in a position of trust," Jones says. "If he was caught doing something like that, he would just be in the category of being an idiot."
Whatever transpired between Keenan and didn't constitute sexual assault on a child. Trinidad's district attorney, Barclay was asked to investigate the girl's complaint against Keenan. He didn't believe the available evidence warranted any kind of criminal charge.
"There were some credibility issues," says Barclay, now in private practice in Denver, "and she was over the age of consent. Also, she was saying the guy kissed her. Well, that's not sexual assault." The mention of "oral sex" in the girl's statement, he insists, refers to French kissing.