A teacher now accused of abusing 200 kids was sanctioned by the Alberta Teachers’ Association back in 2006 — but it didn’t tell the police

An investigation by Alberta’s teaching association into conduct by a teacher who allegedly sexually abused junior high students for years concluded in 2006 that he had “mentally and physically abused his students,” but it didn’t pass that information on to police.

Three former students launched a $40-million lawsuit this week that alleges that Michael Gregory, once a teacher at John Ware Junior High in Calgary, groomed and sexually abused potentially hundreds of children between at least 1989 and 2005.

“The plaintiffs contend that from the period of at least 1989 to 2005, Michael Gregory … sexually assaulted literally over 200 students,” said Jonathan Denis, a lawyer representing the group in a suit filed by Guardian Law Group LLP, at a news conference Monday.

In 2006, an investigation carried out by the Alberta Teachers’ Association, the provincial professional body, finished with Gregory pleading guilty to failing to “treat students with dignity and respect” between 1992 and 2005.

He also pleaded guilty to failing to “maintain the honour and dignity of the profession,” according to a copy of the disciplinary decision from the association, which was obtained by the Star.

Gregory was found by the association’s professional conduct committee to have “mentally and physically abused his students” as well as “coerced and manipulated students for his own benefit,” according to the documents.

The new lawsuit, meanwhile, alleges that Gregory was grooming and sexually abusing students as well. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit say school officials didn’t act when Gregory’s behaviour was brought to their attention and that he paraded his misconduct openly around the school.

Experts have said the case underscores the need for an independent body to deal with these types of misconduct allegations brought against teachers.

Information about Gregory from the Alberta Teachers’ Association investigation in 2006 was not passed on to the Calgary Police Service, a spokesperson for the police said. The first complaint came to the Calgary police in 2020, they added, prompting charges to be brought in 2021.

A Tuesday statement from Jonathan Teghtmeyer, a communications officer with the association, said that “the nature” of “many of the allegations that surfaced more recently” in relation to Gregory were not part of the 2006 probe.

“The role of the association is to receive complaints and assess those complaints relative to standards for teaching,” he said. “If we were to initiate a complaint in another arena, it could lead to an apprehension of bias and potentially jeopardize the outcomes of our legislative processes.”

However, association records suggest that “the RCMP was aware of Mr. Gregory and elements of the case heard by the committee,” said Teghtmeyer.

“The (Calgary Board of Education) was also well aware of the allegations put before the hearing committee,” he added.

Alberta’s education minister, Adriana LaGrange, said in a statement sent to the Star that she expects the association to forward information around “any instance involving criminal allegations or potentially criminal behaviour” to the police.

“If this is not currently happening, I will not hesitate to take action to mandate it,” she said.

In early 2021, Gregory died on Quadra Island in British Columbia in an apparent suicide just days after he was charged with 17 counts of sex-related offences involving six former students.

Since then, Calgary police say that 35 witnesses have come forward with information, as well as an additional 10 victims.

The three former students named as plaintiffs in the proposed class action lawsuit said Gregory never hid his behaviour and that the Calgary Board of Education, one of the defendants in the statement of claim along with Gregory’s estate, should be held accountable for failing to investigate and act on information reported about his conduct.

During a news conference Monday, the group of former students alleged that Gregory groomed 14- and 15-year-old girls by giving them gifts, spending time with them outside of school and making inappropriate comments to them.

Sexual relationships would develop between Gregory and young female students, which included sexual intercourse, the plaintiffs said.

The 2006 decision from the professional conduct committee states that Gregory was to be declared ineligible for association membership for one year and that a recommendation was to be made to the education minister that his teaching certificate be suspended for one year. The consequences were to run consecutively for two years, but Gregory didn’t return to teaching afterward.

Eryn MacKenzie, one of the three named plaintiffs in the lawsuit and a student at the school from 1999 to 2002, said that when she was in grades 8 and 9, Gregory took an interest in her as she struggled with self-harm and bulimia. He groomed her, made inappropriate comments and sexual requests of her, the statement of claim said.

The two spent more and more time together and eventually she was “spending the majority of her leisure time with him,” according to the statement of claim. “Eventually, this led to sexual touching and, ultimately, oral sex and digital penetration,” it added.

When another student found out about the relationship between Gregory and MacKenzie, Gregory allegedly said that “if word got out he would have to kill himself” and “texted her a picture of a firearm.”

Gregory then suggested that she be the one to kill herself, according to the statement of claim, which MacKenzie attempted that night through overdosing, but “got scared and made herself throw up.”

The 2006 Alberta Teachers’ Association decision similarly found that he “put students at risk by being in possession of a firearm while he was having suicidal ideations.”

“Gregory was deceptive and manipulative with students when he coerced students to come to his aid,” it said.

File source

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