Arsonist pleads not guilty to child molestation

EVERETT — A Snohomish man convicted of trying to burn down abortion clinics in the early 1980s was back in court Wednesday, pleading not guilty to a child molestation charge.

Curtis Beseda, 58, entered the plea during a brief hearing in Snohomish County Superior Court.

Police say he is the man who groped an 11-year-old girl inside the Snohomish Fred Meyer store on Jan. 27. The incident was caught on store surveillance video.

Deputy prosecutor Andrew Alsdorf on Wednesday asked that Beseda remain locked up at the county jail in Everett unless he can post bail, which was previously set at $250,000.

Judge Marybeth Dingledy let the bail stand and scheduled Beseda’s trial for late March.

Beseda was sleeping in his minivan in a Pierce County parking lot when he was arrested Monday. He reportedly said he knew that he was wanted on a warrant, but was unaware of the charge.

In court Wednesday, he told the judge that he was just learning that he’d been charged with first-degree child molestation.

An 11-year-old girl reported that a stranger groped her while she was waiting for her father outside the store restroom. Prosecutors say several people identified Beseda from the video footage.

In the 1980s he was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison after being convicted of arsons at abortion clinics in Everett and Bellingham. After bouncing in and out of custody on parole violations Beseda spent much of the last decade cycling through jails and the state mental hospital for a string of misdemeanor offenses. Those include harassment and criminal trespass cases involving churches. He also was charged, but acquitted at trial, of a 2004 reckless burning in Snohomish.

Scott North: 425-339-3431, north@heraldnet.com

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