Convicted child molester gets maximum prison sentence

EVERETT — Being accused of molesting little girls is nothing new for Joshua David Larson.

But getting sentenced to prison after being convicted of the allegations?

The Port Townsend man found out what that was like for the first time Wednesday.

Larson was sentenced to roughly five years behind bars — although there is a good chance he’ll be locked up longer.

He was convicted of molesting a 3-year-old girl while his extended family gathered in Stanwood in 2013 for Thanksgiving dinner. There were no direct witnesses, and the case largely hinged on whom jurors believed.

Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Anita Farris said the sentence, the maximum under state guidelines, was warranted because Larson violated others’ trust to prey on a victim whose young age made her particularly vulnerable.

Larson, 41, declined the judge’s offer to address the court. He mostly stood silent through the hearing, sometimes closing his eyes and frowning.

Over the last 18 years, Larson has three times faced prosecution for allegations that he’s committed sex crimes against young children.

He won acquittal twice in separate trials in King and Clallam counties, the first in 1998 when he was 24, the second last spring.

That came close to happening in Snohomish County, too. A jury here in November was unable to reach a verdict in the Stanwood case, leading to a mistrial.

Larson insisted the physical contact with the girl had been accidental and that his victim in the Stanwood case, now 6, may have made up the story to please her parents.

Deputy prosecutor Laura Twitchell took the case to trial again in January. The second jury needed just 90 minutes of weighing evidence from the week-long trial to find Larson guilty.

The defendant has demonstrated himself to be a liar and a remorseless manipulator, Twitchell said.

“He made a plan and he followed through on it,” she said.

Over the years, four other girls have accused Larson of molestation. At trial, Farris allowed Twitchell to present evidence from other Larson sex cases, but only for the limited purpose of challenging the defendant’s claims that the touching was accidental. The prosecutor successfully argued that the defendant used a common plan in each incident.

The judge’s decision about the other girls’ testimony likely will figure large in Larson’s appeal. On Wednesday, public defender Jennifer Rancourt successfully argued that Twitchell shouldn’t be allowed to make reference to any other allegations against Larson except for the Thanksgiving incident that led to his conviction.

She also asked that limits be placed on photography, urging the judge to order no images of her client in handcuffs.

Farris resolved that issue by allowing Larson to participate during his sentencing without his hands restrained.

He remains charged in Jefferson County with molesting a 7-year-old girl in 2013. Rancourt told the judge she wanted to limit the chance that potential jurors in that case may prejudge Larson should it proceed to trial.

Because he’s been convicted of a sex offense, Larson won’t see freedom again unless he can convince the state’s Indeterminate Sentence Review Board that he is fit to be released. It that happens, he’ll be required to abide by a long list of conditions prohibiting contact with children and also register as a sex offender.

Scott North: 425-339-3431; north@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @snorthnews

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