BALLSTON SPA, N.Y. — A Clifton Park man was sentenced to a total of eight years in state prison and 10 years of post-release supervision Wednesday for attacking two women in 2020 during daylight hours and in public places.
Saratoga County Court Judge James A. Murphy III gave Tyler Gaston a sentence of four years on each count and ordered that they be served consecutively. The proceedings took place virtually in Ballston Spa.
Gaston, 27, pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual abuse in the first degree in April rather than go to trial.
Murphy also ordered that Gaston be registered as a sex offender, submit a DNA sample to the court, and pay a fine of $1,425. Three orders of protection of 16 years each were issued for three crime victims.
Assistant Saratoga County DA Michele Schettino prosecuted the case. Attorney Andrew Safranko represented Gaston in court.
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 a day earlier on Sept. 23 in the city’s Maplewood Cemetery.
During an October arraignment in Murphy’s courtroom, an indictment was handed up for Gaston and it was revealed that a third victim had come forward and was willing to testify should the case go to trial.
As part of Wednesday’s sentencing, the court heard from one of the women Gaston attacked. Murphy ordered there be no identification.
Reading from a prepared victim’s impact statement she described how her day started normally as she left home to go for a walk before going to work. Five minutes later, she told the court, she became convinced she was fighting for her life.
“Never before had I felt such raw fear, such helplessness,” she said. “After a minute, which felt like an eternity, my attempts to break free were fruitless. My panicked shouts had no effect. My mind was racing.”
After thinking about her home life with her boyfriend she was able to “push, pull, and scream” away from her Gaston and to freedom.
“But it wasn’t freedom,” she said. “The attack was so close to where I live and work that every day I have to see that cemetery and be reminded of what happened to me. Every day I’m reminded why I have a reason to no longer feel safe alone whether it be in public or at home and no reason to trust anyone.”
Since the assault, she said there have been long stressful days and long sleepless nights and the incident weighs heavy on her mind. She asked that Murphy sentence Gaston to the maximum sentence allowed by law.
Prosecuting attorney Schettino asked that the court order 10 years of post-release supervision for Gaston and orders of protection for the victims of 16 years, the longest time allowed by law.
Safranko told the court Gaston has expressed deep regret and remorse for his behavior from the first day and has admitted his actions.
In his turn, Gaston told the court he was deeply remorseful and sorry for what happened, what he did, and who he hurt, and that he will do whatever he can to become a better person.
Before pronouncing sentence, Murphy noted that Gaston has never given a reason for his conduct other than depression and the pandemic and that were it not for the three strong and brave women who broke free of his grasp and were willing to assist law enforcement, Gaston’s attacks may have continued.
“This attack, against a woman in broad daylight, is as brazen as it can get and as frightening for a victim of a crime as it can get;” Murphy told Gaston, “that she would be attacked while walking, minding her own business, from behind, by a stranger, by a man who clearly wanted to engage in sexual contact, and that is particularly distressing, disturbing and should be punished as a result of your admitted conduct.”