The suspect in a 2005 child sexual assault case in Astoria has been sent back from the Netherlands to Queens for trial, the Queens district attorney’s office said.
Peter Belegrinos, 30, a former psychiatric technician at Elmhurst Hospital Center whose last known address was 24th Street near 21st Avenue in Astoria, was arrested in February 2011 in the Netherlands’ Schiphol Airport, the DA said. He was held in the country as he fought extradition, the DA said.
Belegrinos had been arraigned on charges of sexual assault in Queens Criminal Court in 2005 and had paid the $50,000 bail, but failed to show up for his next court date Jan. 23, 2006, the DA said.
He has been fighting extradition since his 2011 arrest, the DA said. Queens Supreme Court Judge Gregory Lasak arraigned Belegrinos Friday on a new indictment, charging him with attempted kidnapping, two counts of sexual abuse, assault and three counts of endangering the welfare of a child, the DA said. He has been held without bail and was due to return to court Aug. 13, the DA said.
“We have waited more than six years for the defendant to once again face justice and answer the charges that he is a child predator whose alleged offenses are said to have occurred in a public area in broad daylight,” District Attorney Richard Brown said in a statement. “That long, overdue day has finally arrived.”
Belegrinos is accused of sexually assaulting and attempting to kidnap a 9-year-old girl Aug. 8, 2005, in Astoria Park, the DA said. Belegrinos had allegedly greeted a 9-year-old girl, a 9-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl in the park and asked them to play a “kissing game,” the DA said. The children ran away, but Belegrinos chased after them, the DA said.
While the other two children were able to escape, Belegrinos allegedly caught the 9-year-old girl by grabbing her leg, the DA said. When she fell to the ground, Belegrinos allegedly punched the side of her head, lifted up her skirt and sexually abused her, the DA said. Adults in the park had seen the young girl was in trouble after the boy alerted them and called 911, the DA said.
Belegrinos faces up to 15 years in prison if he is convicted on all charges, the DA said.
The low bail set for Belegrinos back in 2005 engendered criticism from community members and Astoria’s elected officials.
Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cn
©2012 Community News Group
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