Larson pleads guilty to one count of child molestation

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Joshua David Larson pleaded guilty to one count of child molestation Dec. 2 in exchange for the dismissal of one count of first-degree rape of a child.

“I think this strikes a good balance between accountability and sparing the victim further trauma associated with testifying in court,” said Deputy Prosecutor Attorney Julie St. Marie after Larson appeared in Jefferson County Superior Court.

Sentencing for Larson, 42, is set for 3 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 22 before Judge Keith Harper.

The sentencing range is from 69 to 89 months for the single count of child molestation, and both the prosecutor and defense attorney Ben Critchlow have recommended 89 months, St. Marie said.

Larson had been set to go to trial in January.

Earlier, Judge Harper had ruled that only one of four prior incidents of alleged sexual abuse of young girls could be admitted in the case.

The admitted case came to light in 1998 after Larson was arrested and charged with molesting a 5-year-old girl in Bothell, Washington. A jury found Larson not guilty.

During the prosecution of that case, another girl reported Larson had molested her in 1993 when she was 8 and again in 1994 when she 9. Judge Harper admitted into evidence the second incident from 1994.

Defense attorney Critchlow said in court Sept. 16 that deputy prosecutor St. Marie had offered Larson a plea deal. Critchlow said in court Sept. 30 that Larson would not be taking the offer and the case would proceed to trial.

After the Dec. 2 hearing, Critchlow declined to say why he and his client had changed their minds.

St. Marie charged Larson with first-degree rape of a child and first-degree child molestation on Oct. 29, 2015.

In January 2016, Larson was convicted of two counts of first-degree child molestation in Snohomish County after allegedly touching a 3-year-old girl during a Thanksgiving Day family gathering in Stanwood, Washington. He appealed that decision.

In March 2015, a Clallam County jury acquitted Larson of allegedly molesting a 9-year-old girl at the Sequim Aquatic Recreation Center in May 2014.

In that case, the prosecutor was barred from telling the jurors about other allegations against Larson. In the Snohomish County case, the prosecutor was allowed to admit testimony from all four girls who had alleged abuse, including the alleged victim in the yet-to-be-resolved Jefferson County case.

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