Springfield man pleads guilty to indecent assault and battery, drug charge

  • Gary Tallman, left, stands next to his attorney, Jesse Adams, at his change of plea hearing in Hampshire Superior Court on Monday, May 20, 2019.  STAFF PHOTO/BERA DUNAU

Staff Writer
Published: 5/21/2019 2:26:26 PM

NORTHAMPTON — A 22-year-old Springfield man pleaded guilty to indecent assault and battery and a drug distribution charge in Hampshire Superior Court on Monday. Now, as he awaits sentencing next month, a judge will determine whether or not he will have to register as a sex offender.

Gary Tallman pleaded guilty to a single count of indecent assault and battery on a person 14 or over and one count of distribution of benzodiazepines.

As part of the plea deal, charges of rape, drugging for sexual intercourse and misleading a police officer were dropped.

The incidents Tallman pleaded guilty to occurred in August 2016, when Tallman was 19 and the victim was 17, at a house party in Ware.

The Gazette does not typically identify victims of sexual assault.

The woman in the case gave a victim impact statement to the court in which she detailed the effects that the defendant’s actions have had on her life.

“I cannot give or receive a physical form of affinity without your face above mine appearing in my head,” she told the court.

In presenting a statement of facts, Assistant District Attorney Linda Pisano said that Tallman gave the victim water after she had vomited from drinking alcohol and that the victim began to feel weak and dizzy within minutes of drinking the water. Tallman then took the victim upstairs. A friend of the victim found them there unclothed, with Tallman on top of the victim and the victim facedown with a blank stare, “obviously unaware” of what was going on, Pisano said.

Pisano said Tallman was asked to leave the party and that afterward, the victim said she had heard that a rape had occurred at the party and asked if she was the victim.

The victim was given a rape kit, which did not show Tallman’s DNA, according to the prosecution. A toxicology report did show that she had benzodiazepines in her system.

The indecent assault and battery charge Tallman pleaded guilty to is based on the account by the victim’s friend who saw him on top of her when she was unable to understand what was going on. The drug distribution charge is based on Tallman giving the victim water with benzodiazepines in it to drink, according to the prosecution.

The prosecution recommended two and a half years in jail with 18 months served directly and the balance suspended, after which Tallman would be on probation for five years on the drug distribution charge. The recommendation for the indecent assault and battery charge was five years probation to be served at the conclusion of the jail sentence.

Tallman has already served a little more than 11 months in jail and the defense recommended that he serve no additional jail time before the balance of his two-and-half-year sentence is suspended.

In asking for leniency for his client, Tallman’s attorney, Jesse Adams, described the incident as “the biggest mistake” of his client’s life and said that Tallman takes full responsibility for it. He also noted that his client had recently lost his father and that his girlfriend had miscarried twins.

Judge John Agostini agreed with the prosecution’s recommendation. However, he left open the question of whether to accept the prosecution’s recommendation that Tallman register as a sex offender. Agostini noted that the defendant has had “a tough life.”

“We strap him with registration, and they register everyone, we’re almost guaranteeing that he’s going to continue to have an incredibly difficult life,” Agostini said. “I’m fearful of that.”

Tallman is scheduled to be sentenced June 3.

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.

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