Happy Camp man, 63, 'creeped out' young girl, convicted of annoying or molesting a child

Bill Choy
Mount Shasta Herald

"There was potential there that would horrify a parent." That's what Siskiyou County District Attorney said of the case against James Louis Tiraterra, 63 of Happy Camp, who pleaded guilty on Dec. 22 to annoying or molesting a child.

Tiraterra also had a prior qualifying conviction, which constitutes a "strike" under California law and he will be sentenced on March 9 to eight years in state prison for his latest crime.

Andrus, who filed the charges against Tiraterra, said this case is a good reminder of the importance of "watchful parenting."

James Tiraterra

In August, the victim, who is under the age of 14, was selling items in a public place when Tiraterra, who was on parole at the time, approached her.

On several occasions Tiraterra is accused of speaking to the girl in a sexually inappropriate manner, Andrus said. He "leered at her and commented on her appearance and her personal life – stating that she looked several years older than her real age."

On one occasion, Tiraterra gave the girl money but declined to receive any of the property that she was selling, Andrus said. 

Tiraterra was able to get the girl's phone number and tried to contact her, Andrus said, "an attempt that was confirmed when the defendant’s phone was seized."

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The girl  reported what was happening to a family member, who contacted the Sheriff’s Office, and Tiraterra was arrested for a violation of parole. 

“It is vital to speak to your children and train them for situations that they wouldn’t otherwise be prepared for,” said Andrus. “Here a predator with a history of lewd behavior against a child who had several contacts with a young girl that she described as 'creepy' to law enforcement. Fortunately, she knew exactly what to do."

While there was no evidence that Tiraterra ever touched the girl, Andrus said the potential for such a crime was great.

“From the circumstances, the defendant’s intent was clear,” Andrus said.  “We are pleased that we could prove a serious case with an adequate punishment where all that happened to the victim was that she was ‘creeped out.’” 

Siskiyou County Deputy District Attorney Stephanie Lewis prosecuted the case.

Previous convictions

In 1995, Tiraterra was convicted of a felony for sexual battery on an institutionalized person, Andrus said. In 2003, he was convicted of committing a lewd act on a child under 14 in Placer County, a felony.

When contacting the victim in this case, Tiraterra was on parole for the Placer County charge, along with a weapons offense in Siskiyou County.  By the terms of his parole Tiraterra was not permitted to have contact with juveniles, said Andrus. 

Tiraterra is currently an inmate at Siskiyou County Jail.