SARATOGA COUNTY — A Clifton Park man accused in two separate daylight attacks on women he didn’t know in Malta and Saratoga Springs within a few days of each other last September has pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree sexual abuse, authorities said.
Tyler J. Gaston, 27, of Kinns Road, pleaded guilty to the charges during an appearance in Saratoga County Court in Ballston Spa on Wednesday, and will be sentenced by Saratoga County Court Judge James A. Murphy III on June 16. The two charges are violent felonies. The maximum sentence would be seven years in prison on each charge. He also will be added to the state’s sex offender registry.
His case drew an unusual amount of attention at the time of the arrests because the circumstances — a man attacking women he didn’t know during daylight hours — are so unusual in Saratoga County. “This heinous attack goes against the very fiber of who were are as a community,” Sheriff Michael H. Zurlo said.
Gaston was arrested on Sept. 26, shortly after the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Department began investigating a complaint of a woman being attacked while jogging on the Zim Smith Trail in Malta at around 3:45 p.m. that day. He approached the woman from behind in the area of Ruhle Road South and attacked her, Saratoga County sheriff’s officials said.
Gaston fled, and the woman, who had suffered a facial injury during the attack, got help from other people on the trail. Deputies canvassed the area and found a witness who reported a suspicious person linked to a specific vehicle. Authorities subsequently stopped the vehicle and arrested Gaston, who was jailed in lieu of $100,000 bail. The woman was treated by the Malta-Stillwater EMS.
After the Malta arrest, Gaston was quickly linked to another attack on a woman that had occurred a few days earler in Saratoga Springs.
In that case, a woman was attacked at about 10 a.m. Sept. 23 at Maplewood Cemetery, a small cemetery at Weibel Avenue and Loudon Road and located close to large commercial plazas. The victim reported she had been attacked by a man while walking through the cemetery and subjected to forced sexual contact.
“These were stranger encounters where the victims did not know the defendant,” District Attorney Karen A. Heggen said on Friday. “It was a combination of good police work and identification of the perpetrator by other people who were in the area. This was an example of neighbors looking out for each other … People around here do not look the other way.”
Following the arrest, the victims appeared before a grand jury and Gaston was indicted on charges including first-degree sexual abuse and second-degree assault. In pleading guilty to the sexual abuse charges, he pleaded guilty to the most serious charge he faced for each incident, Heggen said.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Michele Schattino, bureau chief of the special victims unit, Heggen said.