Suspect in groping of girl has long history of trouble

SNOHOMISH — A convicted abortion-clinic arsonist accused of groping a girl at the Snohomish Fred Meyer in January has been in and out of trouble with the law since his release from federal prison in 2003, records show.

His local court history since then involves a fire in Snohomish and disturbances at an Everett church. He’s also spent time in a state mental hospital.

Police are looking for Curtis Anton Beseda, 58, in connection with the groping incident in Snohomish on Jan. 27. He was not in custody as of Monday afternoon, according to the sheriff’s office.

Beseda was charged last week with first-degree child molestation. Prosecutors say he approached an 11-year-old girl, rubbed her backside and tried to get her to leave the store with him.

He spent more than a decade in federal prison for fire-bombing abortion clinics in Everett and Bellingham in the 1980s, court papers show.

Beseda was released from prison in 1996 and returned six months later for parole violations. He stayed there until 2003. The next year, he was accused of an attempted arson in the city of Snohomish.

Prosecutors at the time said Beseda posed a “grave concern for public safety.” He was ordered to receive a mental-health evaluation in connection with that case, court records show. He went to trial, and a district court jury found him not guilty of reckless burning.

Everett police records show Beseda was involved in trespassing and obstruction cases in 2004 and 2005 involving Immaculate Conception Church in Everett.

He was convicted of first-degree criminal trespass and banned from the church and school grounds, court records show.

The Everett police reports about the misdemeanor cases nearly a decade ago no longer exist, department spokesman Aaron Snell said Monday.

In 2010, Beseda was arrested again in a harassment case in Puyallup. He later was convicted of the fourth-degree assault and was sent to a state mental hospital.

As of September 2010, he told the court he was still in mental-health treatment. He was being monitored in that case until late 2011.

His 1980s convictions involved three nighttime fires he set outside an Everett women’s health clinic. Tried in front of a federal jury, Beseda testified that he made sure buildings were empty before he set them on fire. He said he didn’t want the fires to cause emotional distress but that he hoped they would prevent women from getting abortions.

Beseda was last reported seen Feb. 5 near his apartment on Maple Avenue in Snohomish. That is about the time images from the store surveillance video began circulating in media reports.

Charging papers say Beseda is known to visit Snohomish-area grocery stores multiple times a day. People familiar with him told investigators he has a compulsion where he must walk into and out of store entrances multiple times before actually going inside to shop.

Anyone with information about Beseda’s whereabouts is asked to call 911 or the sheriff’s tip line at 425-388-3845. No other new information was released Monday.

Reporter Diana Hefley contributed to this story.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com.

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