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Convicted rapist caught after nearly 35 years on run

By Morgan Winsor and Rande Iaboni, CNN
March 30, 2013 -- Updated 0128 GMT (0928 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Gary Irving fled before sentencing in Massachusetts in 1978
  • He was found Wednesday living in Maine, using a different first name
  • Case was featured on "America's Most Wanted," other shows
  • Irving due in court for a hearing on Monday

(CNN) -- Convicted serial rapist Gary Irving was offered a weekend of freedom by a judge in Massachusetts before reporting to jail. He took nearly 35 years.

One of Massachusetts' most wanted fugitives was living a quiet life in Gorham, Maine, until he was arrested Wednesday night at his home. Irving, 52, was found living under the name Gregg Irving, Massachusetts State Police spokesman Dave Procopio said Friday in a statement.

Irving was convicted in 1978 of raping three young women in Norfolk County, Massachusetts. According to Massachusetts State Police, Judge Robert Prince released the 18-year-old defendant on bail to his parents in order to make final arrangements before sentencing. Irving, facing the possibility of life in prison, never returned.

Massachusetts State Police put Irving on their "Most Wanted" list and launched a manhunt.

Louis Sabadini, the Norfolk County prosecutor for the case in 1978, told CNN he had advised Prince, who died in 2010, not to release Irving before his sentencing because he knew he would run. Sabadini said he had hoped Irving would be sent straight to state prison and was surprised by Prince's decision to grant bail because there was no longer a presumption of innocence.

"Usually the judges, even the easy ones, will revoke bail if (the defendant) is found guilty," Sabadini said. "I think most people would run."

Irving had been convicted of three counts of rape with force, unnatural acts and kidnapping, Massachusetts State Police said. In one incident, Irving knocked the victim off her bike and brought her to a secluded area, where he repeatedly raped her. During another, Irving threatened a victim with a knife if she did not comply with his sexual demands.

Since he fled, Irving's profile has been featured on the TV shows "America's Most Wanted," "Unsolved Mysteries" and "Real Stories of the Highway Patrol," according to the Most Wanted poster.

Investigators found numerous handguns and long guns in his home in Gorham on Wednesday. Irving did not possess the guns legally and will be charged by federal authorities on firearms offenses, Procopio said.

Sabadini, now retired and living in Norwell, Massachusetts, told CNN that most lawyers quickly move on to the next case, but this one never quite left his mind.

"It did bother me," he said. "Rapists generally have a tendency to commit that crime over and over again, so I don't know what (Irving) has been doing all those years."

Maine State Police, Gorham police and FBI agents joined the investigation and aided in the arrest, Procopio said. Irving is being held in Portland, Maine. He is scheduled for a hearing Monday morning at Cumberland County Courthouse, according to Stephen McClausland, spokesman for the Maine State Police.

Irving's lawyer, Christopher Leddy, told CNN that he would not comment on the case until after the hearing Monday.

"Please understand that this is an extremely difficult situation for Mr. Irving's family and they would like to be given some space for now," Leddy said.

CNN's Laura Ly contributed to this report.

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