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Michael Gregory admitted he 'abused' students in 2006 but teachers' association never reported to police

·4 min read
Michael Gregory was a teacher at a Calgary junior high school from 1986 to 2006. Five days after he was charged with sexual offences against students, Gregory died by suicide. Now, several former students are suing Gregory's estate and the Calgary Board of Education.  (John Ware Junior High - image credit)
Michael Gregory was a teacher at a Calgary junior high school from 1986 to 2006. Five days after he was charged with sexual offences against students, Gregory died by suicide. Now, several former students are suing Gregory's estate and the Calgary Board of Education. (John Ware Junior High - image credit)

A former Calgary junior high teacher who took his own life earlier this year after being charged with sexual offences admitted in 2006 that he "mentally and physically abused his students," according to the Alberta Teachers' Association (ATA) disciplinary decision to revoked his licence.

Despite the egregious findings, including that Gregory "participated in dangerous, demeaning and disrespectful acts with his students," the ATA did not report its findings to police and says the association is under no obligation to do so.

This information comes days after a $40-million proposed class action lawsuit was filed against Gregory's estate and the Calgary Board of Education by three named plaintiffs who say they were victims of the teacher's abusive behaviour.

Gregory worked at John Ware Junior High from 1986 to 2006 as a math, science and outdoor education teacher.

Teaching license suspended in '06

In February, Gregory was charged with 17 sexual offences against six of his students. His body was found on Quadra Island in B.C. five days later. He had taken his own life.

Since then police say they've heard from 10 more women who say they were Gregory's victims and 35 more witnesses to his behaviour.

Lawyer Jonathan Denis, who filed the suit on behalf of the plaintiffs, says given Gregory's 20-year career that there could be up to 200 victims.

Following an investigation by the ATA in 2006, Gregory's teaching licence and membership with the association was suspended.

Gregory admitted to manipulating students

CBC News has obtained a copy of the three-page decision that gives new details on what was known about Gregory's behaviour with students 15 years before he was charged.

Gregory pleaded guilty to two counts of unprofessional conduct — failing to maintain the honour and dignity of the profession and failing to treat students with dignity and respect — for incidents that took place between 1992 and 2005.

Alberta Teachers Association
Alberta Teachers Association

He admitted to giving students in his classes alcohol and abusing them both mentally and physically, according to the decision.

"Gregory's actions clearly showed disregard for the safety, well-being and dignity of the students in his care," reads the decision.

The disciplinary decision also suggests Gregory was "deceptive and manipulative," putting teens at risk when he "coerced" some of his students into coming to help him after threatening suicide while in possession of a firearm.

ATA under no obligation to report concerns to police

Although his punishment was a one-year suspension of his ATA membership and a one-year suspension of his teaching certificate, for each charge to be served consecutively, spokesperson Jonathan Teghtmeyer says Gregory would have had to apply to be reinstated.

He never did, leaving the teaching profession for good in 2006.

The ATA says its investigator did not have evidence of many of the sexual allegations that have more recently come to light.

Teghtmeyer says the ATA is not under any obligation to report potential criminal behaviour on the part of teachers to police.

"It's not the position of the association to determine the criminality of behaviours," said Teghtmeyer in a phone interview.

Teghtmeyer says the association is responsible for determining whether a teacher is "fit for the classroom."

"There would be concern that the professional conduct case could be in jeopardy if the association were to make complaints to other bodies," said Teghtmeyer. "It could lead to an apprehension of bias with regards to our legislative processes."

In this case though, he says the ATA had information Gregory was on the RCMP's radar but it's not clear what they knew or whether there was any kind of police investigation.

Gregory lived on an acreage in Okotoks — which is in RCMP jurisdiction — but taught in Calgary so RCMP involvement could be solely related to the suicide and firearm threat.

'He never hid it'

The three named plaintiffs spoke at a press conference Monday, detailing the abuse they say they suffered in junior high.

Two were women who say Gregory sexually assaulted them as 14-year-olds. The third is a man who says he witnessed some of Gregory's sexually inappropriate behaviours.

All three said they wanted the Calgary Board of Education (CBE) held accountable and protocols put in place to prevent others from suffering as they did.

The lawsuit alleges several CBE employees were aware that Gregory had sexual relationships with his teen students yet nothing was done beyond moving girls out of his classes.

"He never hid it," said Cody Bonkowsky, who explained Gregory was regularly seen with girls in his truck coming and going from the school.

He was also known to sleep in a tent with girls from his classes while on outdoor excursions, according to the lawsuit.

The statement of claim alleges Gregory used classic grooming techniques with his students, first giving the girl extra attention, gifts and innocent touching before turning the relationship predatory and sexual.

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