May 24, 2013

Fugitive rapist found in Maine is punished

Gary Alan Irving, who fled after his 1979 conviction in Massachusetts, gets up to 40 years for his crimes.

By Eric Russell
Staff Writer

DEDHAM, Mass. — Gary Alan Irving, the convicted rapist who eluded police for 34 years after fleeing to Maine, was finally sentenced Thursday, and his attorney said Irving doesn't even remember committing the crimes.

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Convicted rapist Gary Irving is led into Norfolk Superior Court in Dedham, Mass., Thursday, May 23, for sentencing. Irving was sentenced to 36 to 40 years in prison for raping three women in Massachusetts, more than three decades after he fled the state and began living a secret life in Maine. (AP Photo/The Patriot Ledger, Gary Higgins, Pool)


Irving, 52, who lived in Gorham for at least the last three decades, was sentenced by Norfolk County Superior Court Judge Kenneth Fishman to consecutive 18- to 20-year terms for two counts of rape, meaning he will serve as much as 40 years in prison.

Irving also was sentenced for six other counts of rape, assault and kidnapping related to crimes in the summer of 1978 on the South Shore of Massachusetts. Those sentences are shorter than the sentences for the rapes and will run concurrently.

Information emerged during Thursday's hearing that indicated another person may have joined Irving in committing one of the rapes.

Assistant District Attorney Michele Armour said the accomplice participated but was never charged because he was 16 at the time, and now the statute of limitations has run out.

Fishman acknowledged that 40 years could be a life sentence for a man of Irving's age, but said he thinks it is fair, given the victims' physical and psychological trauma, Irving's lack of remorse and "his deceit over the past 34 years."

Armour said she was pleased with the length of the sentence.

"I think it gives some sense of peace and justice to the victims," she said on the courthouse steps after the hearing.

Irving's attorney, Neil Tassel, who recommended a sentence of eight to 10 years, said he disagreed with the basis for his client's sentence. He said Irving has lived for the past 34 years as a loving husband, father and law-abiding citizen, and that should have been a mitigating factor.

Tassel said his client has no recollection of committing the crimes and maintains his innocence. He said he is still considering whether to appeal the conviction, but acknowledged that it would be a challenge.

Although the transcripts from Irving's trial in 1979 have been recovered, Tassel said, "(The state) has failed to preserve all the evidence of the trial."

Several members of Irving's family sat a few rows behind him Thursday in the courtroom. His wife, Bonnie, and his two adult children were present, as was his brother, Greg, whose name he assumed when he fled to Maine, and his mother, Margaret. They all declined to speak to reporters.

None of Irving's victims attended the sentencing, although the judge heard impact statements from all three, including one that was read by the sister of a victim.

The sister, who identified herself only as Lisa, said after the hearing that the sentence gives her sister the "energy and ability to put this behind her."

Irving, originally of Rockland, Mass., was convicted in June 1979 of sexually assaulting three girls in the summer of 1978, when he was 17. Irving surprised his victims, all of whom were walking or riding a bicycle, forced them into secluded areas or into his car and raped them at knifepoint.

The victims identified Irving from his yearbook photo, and from a graduation tassel in his high school's colors that hung from his car's rearview mirror.

After Irving's conviction and before his sentencing, a judge released him into his parents' custody for one final weekend before he reported to jail. Irving disappeared.

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