CAMBRIDGE — Darius Tilghman, the former Talbot deputy who allegedly sexually assaulted a woman and threatened her with his service handgun earlier this year, has been released to home detention while he awaits his trial.
Dorchester Circuit Judge Brett Wilson granted Tilghman’s release Wednesday, July 29. Wilson said he didn’t see a “real reason” to hold Tilghman, as long as Tilghman understood his avoiding contact with his alleged victim and her associates is “paramount” to his release.
The judge said Tilghman will be monitored by GPS and restricted to his home in Hurlock, which he will be allowed to leave only for the purposes of meeting with a pretrial case manager, seeking employment or medical treatment, or to shop for necessities during an allotted three hours per week.
Wilson likened Tilghman’s release conditions to Tilghman “balancing on the head of a pin.” He told the accused assaulter to “make sure” he does everything he’s “supposed to.”
Tilghman, wearing an orange mask and jumpsuit and appearing before the court via video call due to COVID-19 restrictions, argued for his own release because his attorney, Michelle Barnes, was not present at Wednesday’s hearing.
Tilghman told the judge he doesn’t “want any trouble with anybody” and he’s trying to “get away” from the woman who is accusing him of having assaulted her.
Tilghman called his longtime romantic relationship with his accuser a “bad situation,” and said her allegations against him came after she showed up at his home “uninvited” on several occasions, prompting him to seek a protective order against her that was granted in April.
The woman also has a protective order against Tilghman that was granted in June. The order barred Tilghman from possessing a weapon and resulted in his losing his job with the Talbot County Sheriff’s Office.
In opposition of Tilghman’s release, the prosecution argued Wednesday that he should be held in jail because the State is concerned about the “control he might have” over his accuser, which the prosecutor said, would stem from “his status as a police officer.”
But the judge said, given that there were no witnesses to Tilghman’s alleged crime and no evidence aside from police photos of the woman’s injuries, the case will be “word against word,” and Tilghman is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Ahead of Wilson’s decision to release him, Tilghman said he wants to get his “life back together” and “be there” for his 6-year-old son, of whom he said his accuser is not the mother.
Tilghman is facing one felony charge of first-degree assault, and several misdemeanors, including two counts of second-degree assault, fourth-degree sex offense, reckless endangerment and use of a handgun during a violent crime.
The charges, as previously reported in The Star Democrat, stem from Tilghman’s 29-year-old accuser reporting to police that Tilghman on Jan. 19 strangled her with a fabric headband, pulled her pants down and then threatened her with his service handgun while the two were at his home.
The woman also reported two other incidents to police she said occurred in April that involved Tilghman allegedly threatening her with a gun, wrapping his hands around her neck and pushing her off the steps of his home, causing scrapes and abrasions to her hand and elbow.
Tilghman’s accuser is separately facing charges in connection with the same April incident. The woman is accused of burglarizing Tilghman’s home and is expected to face a jury trial in January 2021.
Further proceedings in the case against the former deputy are expected to be scheduled on Monday morning, Aug. 17, during a scheduling conference in Dorchester Circuit Court.