Today’s news:

Accused sexual predator nabbed

A 29-year-old accused child molester, whose failure to show up in Queens Criminal Court in January 2006 enraged the Astoria community, was found in the Netherlands last week, the Queens district attorney’s office said.

Former Elmhurst Hospital psychiatric technician Peter Belegrinos, who was charged with physically and sexually assaulting a 9-year-old girl in Astoria Park in 2005, was arrested at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam on charges of bail jumping Feb. 21, the DA said. He was indicted on the charge of jumping bail in March 2006, the DA said.

The arrest was welcomed by City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria), who has long been a critic of the $50,000 bail Queens Criminal Court Judge Deborah Stevens Modica had set for Belegrinos, contending it was far too low. Belegrinos had paid the bail soon after he was arrested and arraigned on charges of attempted kidnapping, sexual abuse, assault and endangering the welfare of a child in August 2005, the DA said.

“After five years on the loose, our community can finally rest assured that this predator is behind bars,” Vallone said in a statement. “This monster should never have been given the opportunity to flee and endanger children every second he evaded capture.”

The low bail for Belegrinos was also criticized in 2005 and 2006 by then state Assemblyman Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) and then-state Sen. George Onorato (D-Astoria) as well as community residents.

Belegrinos, whose last known address in New York was at 24th Street near 20th Avenue in Astoria, allegedly approached three children in Astoria Park at Ditmars and Shore boulevards Aug. 8 and asked them to play a “kissing game,” the DA said. Two of the children, a 9-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl, ran away, and Belegrinos allegedly told the 9-year-old girl who stayed behind to get in his car so they could go after the other children, the DA said.

The 9-year-old girl then ran to the boy and they hid behind some bushes in the park, the DA said. Belegrinos allegedly drove over to the bushes where the children were and then got out of his car and ran toward them, the DA said. When he reached them, Belegrinos allegedly punched the girl in the face, causing her to fall on the ground, then lifted up her skirt and sexually abused her, the DA said. When the girl tried to scream, Belegrinos allegedly placed his hand over her mouth and said to her, “Can’t you ever shut up?” the DA said.

Upon seeing this, the 9-year-old boy screamed, alerting passers-by to the incident, the DA said.

Belegrinos was arraigned and posted bail the next day, the DA said. When his next court date came around on Jan. 23, 2006, Belegrinos failed to appear, the DA said.

He faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted on the 2005 charges and an additional four years if convicted of jumping bail, the DA said.

Belegrinos appeared before an examining judge in the Netherlands Feb. 22 for extradition, the DA said. He chose not to waive the extradition process, meaning he will not go willingly, and the DA’s office must file papers with Dutch authorities within 60 days to go through the extradition process, the DA said.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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