Man accused of serial sexual assaults pleads not guilty
A man accused of drugging, sexually assaulting and robbing several people – most of them Surrey sex trade workers – between 2005 and 2010 pleaded not guilty to 24 charges in New Westminster Supreme Court Monday.
Steven Andrew Beszedes was 45 years old when he was arrested in November 2010 and charged with 12 criminal offences, but the number of charges was doubled as more witnesses were located.
Crown lawyers contend Beszedes drugged vulnerable people for his own benefit, often leaving them unconscious in bushes or parking lots after sexually assaulting and/or robbing them.
All of the alleged 10 victims, except one, are female sex trade workers.
"Because of this," said prosecutor Beverly Lane, "their complaints were not taken seriously."
It wasn't until a pattern began to emerge within the community that an investigation began, Lane said.
Monday marked the first day of what's scheduled to be a lengthy trial before Justice James Williams.
Lane outlined the testimony she expects the court will hear from the alleged victims in the coming weeks.
All the women claim they were offered free drugs by Beszedes, said Lane, who said the man would tell them the white powder was crack, methamphetamine, or heroin. Some of the women knew him from prior encounters, while some did not know him.
Almost immediately after smoking, injecting or snorting the offered drugs, the women, said Lane, reported passing out, sometimes not waking up for two days. Many said they awoke either with no clothes or no underwear, feeling as if they'd had sexual intercourse.
Several, said Lane, will also testify their personal belongings, such as cash and jewelry, were missing after their encounter with Beszedes.
At least two of the alleged victims identified Beszedes from police photos.
One alleged victim was a man who used Craigslist to find a casual sexual encounter in 2010. The Crown will argue that he arranged a threesome with Beszedes and a woman and they all met at the man's motor home on a rural Langley property.
The man's landlord had seen Beszedes and the woman enter the motor home and leave and attempted to call his renter. When he got no response, he went to the motor home and found the male. His pants were down and he couldn't be roused. In hospital, his urine contained the sedative benzodiazepine.
The Crown's theory is that it is the same drug as was administered during the encounters with the sex trade workers.
Video surveillance from the Langley property was also seized as were cellphone records from the alleged male victim's phone, which shows the last number matches that of Beszedes, the Crown said.
Beszedes, a tall, slim man with balding salt and pepper hair, listened from the prisoner's box to the Crown's case against him, waving once to an acquaintance in the court gallery. He has been in custody since his arrest.
The trial continues.