On the morning of Oct. 23, Michael Tallman’s third sex abuse trial in six years was set to begin in Deschutes County Circuit Court, but the former Redmond High School assistant principal was nowhere to be found. Back at his house, his belongings were gone.
Police now believe Tallman, who last year legally changed his last name from Bremont, is absconding from justice, and he may be getting help.
“He could be anywhere,” said Redmond Police Lt. Curtis Chambers. “We don’t know if he’s still in the state. We don’t know if he’s left the state. But we desire to have him have his day in court sooner rather than later.”
Redmond and other agencies are asking for any information about Tallman’s whereabouts.
Tallman, 45, faces 10 felony counts of second-degree sexual abuse.
If convicted, he could face life in prison under Oregon’s three strikes law for felony sex offenses.
Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel said he hasn’t decided whether to pursue a life sentence.
Tallman was arrested in January for an alleged sexual relationship that began in 2009, when the girl was 17 and a student at the Redmond Proficiency Academy, and he was 36 and director of the school.
Tallman pleaded not guilty that month and was granted security release while awaiting a jury trial. His release conditions included wearing a GPS ankle monitor and not leaving the state.
But on Oct. 12, a technician with the court’s electronic monitoring provider, Vigilnet, reported that Tallman had tampered with his ankle monitor. A warrant for Tallman’s arrest was issued Oct. 17, the same day Tallman’s tracking device was located in his garage in Bend.
He was due in court the next day for a status hearing for his trial scheduled to begin Oct. 23. A judge increased his bail to $2 million.
Until 2012, Tallman was considered an upstanding and innovative educator, according to Bulletin archives.
He graduated from college in Pennsylvania in December 1995 and began his education career the next month, as a substitute teacher in the Lake County School District in Southern Oregon. After six months, he became a special education teacher in the Sisters School District, and in 1997, he returned to Lake County to work as a counselor and later director of student services.
From 2002 to 2006, he worked at the Central Linn School District in Halsey as a high school vice principal and principal. In 2006, he came to Redmond High School, where he worked as a vice principal. It was at Redmond High he developed an interest in proficiency-based education.
In 2009, Tallman and two partners founded the Redmond Proficiency Academy charter school. The school’s unique educational model allows students to tailor class schedules to their individual needs and progress at their own pace. The partners made Tallman the school’s first director, and in board meetings they discussed taking their innovative model to other districts.
But in 2012, everything changed. Tallman was arrested in connection with a sexual relationship with a Redmond Proficiency Academy student that began in 2009, when she was 15. The ensuing police investigation uncovered a prior sexual relationship with an underage student from Tallman’s time at Central Linn High School.
He took plea bargains in both cases and was sentenced to 21 months in prison for the Redmond Proficiency case and 30 days jail for the Central Linn case. He was also convicted in 2012 of first-degree theft for stealing Redmond Proficiency Academy computers.
He was released by the Department of Corrections in 2014 after 14 months for good behavior. But later that year, he was sent back to prison for violating the terms of his parole by leaving the state and leading an Oregon State Police trooper on a chase exceeding 100 mph.
After his prison term concluded, he married a woman named Meagan Tallman. In 2017, he formally began using her surname.
In the summer of 2017, another female Redmond Proficiency Academy graduate came forward with an allegation. The woman had been interviewed in the 2012 case and told investigators she’d had a sexual relationship with Tallman, but that it didn’t start until after she turned 18. But this wasn’t true, she said.
Their relationship had begun in 2009, when she was 17. And it didn’t end there, she said. The woman said Tallman had coached her on what to tell police. In one instance, he was listening in via speaker phone as she was interviewed by a Redmond detective.
After she graduated high school, Tallman paid to move the now-18-year-old woman to Portland, where she attended college, and over a 2-year period, he rented her an apartment and supported her financially.
The accuser in Tallman’s current open case told investigators about an incident in 2012 when she was visiting a friend’s house in Portland and Tallman showed up unannounced. He was on house arrest for his first sex abuse cases, and told her he’d cut off his tracking bracelet and told authorities the bracelet had malfunctioned.
Tallman has ties to Arizona and the Portland area. He’s listed in court documents as 5’10, 230 pounds, and drives a 2012 Ford F-350 pickup. He’s used the aliases Mike Breeman, Jacob Straib and Adam Straib.
Last week, Tallman’s former attorney, Matthew Baughman, filed a motion to withdraw his representation.
Tallman is not currently represented by a lawyer, and Baughman declined to answer questions.
Chambers, the Redmond police lieutenant, said he suspects there are people helping Tallman evade justice.
“We’re passionate about believing juvenile sex crimes victims, and we are very interested in having Mr. — sorry, Mr. Tallman — have his day in court,” Chambers said.
— Reporter: 541-383-0325, firstname.lastname@example.org