BALLSTON SPA, N.Y. — A Clifton Park man was sent to the Saratoga County Correctional Facility last week after being arraigned on a six-count indictment alleging he committed forcible sexual abuse in three separate attacks on women who were recreating alone.
As part of an arraignment on the charges in county court in Ballston Spa before Judge James A. Murphy III, Tyler Gaston, 26 was remanded to the county jail without bail. During court discussions on the issue of bail Murphy noted that a new accuser has come forward since Gaston’s two recent arrests and it has been revealed that Gaston held a one-way ticket to France.
Gaston was arrested Sept. 26 by Saratoga County Sheriff’s deputies after they received a report of a person having forcible sexual contact with a woman while she was on the Zim Smith Trail in Malta.
He was arrested a second time on Oct. 1 by the Saratoga Springs Police Department for a similar incident which took place Sept. 23 in the city’s Maplewood Cemetery.
An indictment against Gaston was handed up to the Saratoga County Court by the county district attorney’s office earlier this month. Gaston, who was freed on $180,000 bond, appeared in Saratoga County Court Oct. 14 as requested with his attorney Andrew Safranko.
The indictment charges Gaston with two counts of sexual abuse, two counts of assault in the second degree, one count of criminal obstruction of breathing, and one count of harassment. Police reports show physical injury resulted in both incidents.
During the arraignment it was revealed that a third victim has come forward and that she is willing to testify in court.
He could receive a sentence of two to 14 years if found guilty of the crimes.
Gaston is a professional chef and has worked at several well-known establishments in Saratoga Springs.
He pleaded not guilty to all charges.
In discussing whether Gaston should remain free on bail prosecutor Michele Schettino noted that the local courts in Malta and Saratoga Springs did not have the full history on Gaston’s alleged criminal acts when they set bail and the amounts set were not the people’s recommendations.
Being currently unemployed, holding a valid U.S. passport, and with a one way ticket to Paris in hand, Schettino said there was concern Gaston was a flight risk. Noting that in conducting his alleged crimes Gaston is believed to have fled the scene of each, she said he remains a threat to the community’s safety. Schettino asked that Gaston be required to surrender his passport and be remanded without bail.
“His desire, means and ability to leave the state and the country, and travel internationally is a grave significance to the people as is his conduct of having fled the scene in each instance,” she said.
Gaston’s attorney Safranko said the passport would be surrendered but asked that his client be allowed to remain free on bail noting that Gaston has no criminal record of any kind, the one-way ticket was purchased prior to his arrest, was one-way due to the coronavirus, that a total of $180,000 bond has already been put up, and Gaston had appeared in court that day for the arraignment of his own free will.
“There is no flight risk, he’s not going anywhere,” Safranko told Murphy. “We ask that you keep the $180,000 bond.”
In refusing to allow the bail to stand Murphy noted the appearance of the third accuser. He said it had changed the case as had the revelation that Gaston held a valid ticket for international travel.
“The court finds there has been a significant change in circumstances from the time when bail was set,” Murphy said. “Primarily there is a new victim in the case which is a significant change in circumstances. Secondly there is additional information the defendant has purchased a one-way ticket to Paris with no return date.
"Given these new circumstances and the uncertainties surrounding them the court is not convinced that the defendant would return to this court and that he is in fact a significant flight risk.”
Murphy allowed Safranko the right to make a formal bail motion and further explain the issue of the one-way airline ticket, its refund, and the degree to which Safranko was aware of a possible third victim and why does not change the circumstances.
After the court proceedings Safranko said he and his client were surprised that despite appearing in court of his own free will and having had no new charges brought against him since his arrests, he was remanded. Safranko added that he understood the revelation of a new accuser changes the circumstances and he will proceed with filing an application for bail which he feels will also contain information that can refute the reasons for denying it.
“He’s a great kid from a great family with no previous record of any kind. He is not a threat to public safety; society has nothing to fear,” Safranko said. “The trip to Paris was planned long before these incidents are alleged to have happened.”
Gaston’s next court appearance is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Nov. 4 pending a motion by Safranko.