April 28, 2013

A Maine man's life torn in two

Nearly 34 years ago, convicted serial rapist Gary Alan Irving ran from justice and pursued a seemingly ordinary existence in Maine. But did he – could he – escape the shadows of the crimes he left behind?

By Eric Russell erussell@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 6)

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Gary Alan Irving, top left, is seen shortly after his arrest in September 1978 on suspicion that he raped three teenage girls at knifepoint in Massachusetts. He lived with his parents and siblings at this home on Myrtle Street in Rockland, Mass., left, at the time. The 52-year-old Irving, top right, was arrested as a fugitive from justice late last month. Irving, who lived at this South Street home in Gorham, right, had gotten married and raised two children, eluding authorities for almost 34 years.

Left photo by Eric Russell/Staff Writer; top left, courtesy Cohasset Police Department; right photo by John Patriquin/Staff Photographer; top right, police photo

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Additional Photos Below

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Irving's attorney, Neil Tassel of Boston, spoke to reporters after that April 12 hearing and said he believes that DNA sample could actually help Irving.

Tassel said he's confident that his client has not committed any crimes since 1978 and said he's strongly considering appealing the 34-year-old conviction.

"One of the most significant aspects of the case to me is that things were done very different (in 1979)," Tassel said. "These were crimes that were very traumatic; they were terrible attacks that occurred. There is no question that they occurred, and there was a tremendous amount of pressure on authorities to clear those cases.

"But we now know in many other cases that people have been cleared by DNA."

Tassel agreed with others about the possibility that a serial rapist could stop that impulse cold turkey.

"Crimes of this nature don't come out of thin air," he said. "It seems very unlikely to me that a person of his character could have committed these crimes and then suddenly lost any urge to commit these types of crimes."

One of the pieces that could determine whether the case is retried is the status of the trial transcript from 1979. It's the only documentation of what happened and will be relied on heavily by the judge for reference.

Tassel said Friday that some pretrial documents have been located and he's hopeful that the entire trial transcript will be found as well.

• • • • •

Even if he does appeal, Irving faces sentencing first. That date has been set for May 23 in Norfolk County Superior Court in Dedham, Mass.

District Attorney Michael Morrissey has said that Irving will get a fair hearing but also said his office will seek a "significant sentence."

Sabadini, the former prosecutor, said he expected that some or all of the victims would be present at sentencing, or at the very least would provide victim impact statements that would help the judge determine an appropriate sentencing.

So far, none of the victims has come forward publicly since Irving's arrest.

Tassel has said that he plans to argue that Irving has lived a crime-free life for 34 years and hopes that counts for something.

For his family in Maine, they face the possibility that Irving, now 52, may not be free again.

David Butler, pastor of the First Parish Congregational Church in Gorham, knew Bonnie Irving's family well.

"At this point, I think everyone in town is just feeling sympathy for her," he said.

"She's a victim of his, too," added Brown, the local police officer. "Her future. So much of her life is a lie."

Shawn Moody, a Gorham resident and business owner who also knew Bonnie Irving, agreed that the news of Irving's capture is devastating for his Maine family, but also, he said, a long time coming for his victims in Massachusetts.

"Could those women ever put this behind them knowing he was out there somewhere?" Moody said.

Others agreed.

"It's awful on so many levels," said Waisgerber, Irving's former classmate. "The wake of destruction that he created. It's amazing that 34 years went by for this to be resolved."

Dickson, Irving's childhood friend and neighbor, said although she was not one of his victims, like them she has been waiting all these years for resolution.

She plans on attending his sentencing but said she wants to visit him in prison after things settle down.

She really only has one question: "I just want to ask, 'What happened to you?"'

Eric Russell can be contacted at 791-6344 or at:


Twitter: @PPHEricRussell


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Additional Photos

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Friends and former classmates say it remains a mystery what turned “this socially awkward kid,” seen in a 1978 yearbook photo, into one of law enforcement’s most wanted.

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Gary Irving, who in 1979 was convicted of raping three teenage girls in Massachusetts, leaves the Cumberland County Courthouse on April 1.

Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer


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