By Nathan Duke
Former Elmhurst Hospital nurse's aide Peter Belegrinos, 23, of 20-60 24th St., was arrested in August after allegedly dragging a 9-year-old girl into some bushes near Astoria Park in broad daylight, punching her in the face and molesting her as she cried for help.If convicted, Belegrinos could face up to 15 years in prison.Belegrinos was scheduled to appear in Queens Criminal Court on Jan. 23, but never showed up and a bench warrant has been issued for his arrest, a DA spokeswoman said. She said the prosecution had asked for a remand at Belegrinos' arraignment, but the judge set bail at $50,000, which the defendant paid.Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) said he believed Belegrinos' bail was too low and that the defendant would eventually flee.”The evidence is so overwhelming that the defendant should have been remanded,” Vallone said. “This monster is roaming around free and unmonitored. Parents have to keep an eye on their children until this predator is behind bars.”Vallone also said his sources told him that Belegrinos requires medication, but was not using it at the time of his flight.”The fact that this guy is walking the streets after what he did is disgraceful,” said state Assemblyman Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria), who has pushed for tougher sentences for sex offenders. “God forbid he does something to another child. It will be on the court's head.”Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said Belegrinos approached the 9-year-old victim and two of her friends on Aug. 8 near Astoria Park and asked them if they wanted to play a “kissing game.” Brown said the victim's friends ran away and that one of them, a 12-year-old boy, drew the attention of passersby, who called the police. Belegrinos allegedly punched the victim in the face, knocking her to the ground, lifted her skirt and molested her, Brown said.Belegrinos was arrested Aug. 9 and charged with attempted kidnapping, sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a child.Vallone has drafted a resolution that was unanimously passed by the City Council calling for the state to enact Florida's Jessica Lunsford Act, which imprisons first-time sex offenders for 25 years to life and second-time offenders to life.Last week, Gov. George Pataki introduced legislation that would give the state a version of the act and the state Legislature passed legislation to strengthen Megan's Law, which requires lifetime registration for the worst sexual predators, Vallone said.Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.