DEDHAM, Mass. — A convicted serial rapist who hid out in Maine for 34 years was sentenced to two prison terms that could keep him behind bars for the next four decades.
On Thursday, in the same Dedham, Mass., court in which he failed to appear in 1979, 52-year-old Gary Alan Irving was sentenced to two consective 18- to 20-year terms in state prison.
Irving was supposed to be sentenced June 27, 1979, after he was convicted in the rapes of three 16-year-old girls in Weymouth, Cohasset and Holbrook.
After defaulting, authorities say he settled in Maine, where he was married, worked in telecommunications, and had children and a grandchild.
In March, authorities arrested Irving, who was Massachusetts State Police’s longest-wanted fugitive, at his home in Gorham, Maine. At first, police said he gave them a fake name, but eventually confirmed he was their man.
Irving, wearing long hair in a ponytail, eyeglasses and a scraggly beard, hung his head into his folded hands as impact statements were read Thursday, two by victims’ relatives and one by the victim herself on a video screen.
“Today provides, finally, some answer to the survivors of these crimes,” Norfolk County District Attorney Michael Morrissey said. “This predator is finally going to prison for these attacks. To those women, I am personally sorry that you have waited so long for justice. I am sorry that so much strength and perseverance was asked of you.”
Irving was also sentenced to a seven- to 10-year concurrent sentence for kidnapping and 20 years of probation on all other counts. Prosecutors said he held his victims at knifepoint while or after forcing them into his car.
Judge Kenenth Fishman did not give credence to an argument by Irving’s attorney that the apparently straight-laced life Irving lived while on the lam should mitigate his punishment.
“He did everything that could be hoped for for him after he left,” said the attorney, Neil Tassel.
“He did so, at least in part, to avoid discovery,” Fishman responded in later remarks.
After the sentencing, Tassel said Irving did not recall assaulting anyone and that he believes DNA evidence could exonerate him.
Morrissey said state police detectives, who rededicated themselves to the investigation about two-and-a-half years ago, traveled to several states in their search for Irving.
Irving’s wife and other relatives attended Thursday’s sentencing. They declined comment as they left the courthouse.
Irving will be eligible for parole after 24 years, Tassel said. His crimes precede a change to state law that greatly limited parole eligibility for violent offenders.
“We don’t think he’s getting out,” Morrissey said.
Irving, a Rockland, Mass., native who has been held without bail since early April, faced the possibility of life in prison in 1979. But the judge who would decide his sentence, Robert Prince, allowed him to go home to his parents for a week. Irving’s father was an auxiliary Rockland police officer, so Prince didn’t believe Irving was a flight risk.
Prince, who died in 2010, expressed regret about the decision in later years.
Before the sentencing, impact statements were read on behalf of two of Irving’s victims. The third victim submitted a video statement, the image of her face distorted. All spoke of never getting married or having children, suicidal thoughts and attempts, and feelings of being trapped.
“I sometimes wonder if death would have been a less traumatic alternative,” the victim on video said. “He fled from his judgment. Yet I was unable to flee from the memories that haunt me to this day.”
From The Patriot Ledger.
Jack Encarnaco may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.