Calgary

Wife of teacher who lost job after admitting to abusing students says she was unaware: court doc

Despite her husband losing his job in 2006 after admitting to “mentally and physically abusing students," Michael Gregory’s wife has denied any knowledge of his misconduct and has asked that a proposed class-action lawsuit filed by former students who allege they were victims be dismissed.

Michael Gregory's estate filed statement of defence to proposed $40M class-action lawsuit

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)

Despite her husband losing his job in 2006 after admitting to "mentally and physically abusing students," Michael Gregory's wife has denied any knowledge of his misconduct and has asked that a proposed class-action lawsuit filed by former students who allege they were victims be dismissed.

This week, a statement of defence was filed by Michael Gregory's estate at the Calgary courthouse after several students launched a $40-million lawsuit against Gregory and the Calgary Board of Education (CBE).

The lawsuit alleges the junior high staff — including a vice-principal — where Gregory taught were well aware of his abusive behaviour.

Last February, Gregory died by suicide five days after he was arrested and charged with 17 counts of sexual assault and sexual exploitation stemming from incidents between 1999 and 2005.

The women allege that as young teens, Gregory groomed them into sexual relationships. Some of them had their first sexual experience with the teacher.

'Dangerous, demeaning and disrespectful acts'

Gregory taught math, science and outdoor education at John Ware Junior High from 1986 to 2006. He was known, say former students, for taking kids on unsanctioned outdoor trips where he'd sleep in a tent with girls.

The Alberta Teachers' Association revoked Gregory's licence in 2006 after he pleaded guilty to two counts of professional misconduct, admitting that he "mentally and physically abused his students."

The ATA found Gregory "participated in dangerous, demeaning and disrespectful acts with his students."

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

Gregory's estate 'denies any wrongdoing'

But Gregory's wife, through the estate's statement of defence and a second court document refuting proposed facts to be admitted, says she had no knowledge of any abuse allegations until the day he was charged. 

"The personal representative of the estate is unaware of the behaviour described in the report of the hearing committee of the professional conduct committee for the Alberta Teachers' Association," reads the reply to notice to admit facts filed by JSS Barristers lawyer Oliver Ho.

Gregory's wife admitted to three facts laid out in the lawsuit: that he gave rides in his personal vehicle to students, that he had students to his home (although she wasn't aware if they were past, present or students at all) and that he had cow pie fights with students.

In asking that the lawsuit be dismissed, Gregory's estate "denies any wrongdoing on its part or the part of Mr. Gregory" and "denies the plaintiffs suffered any injuries, losses or damages."

More women come forward

In its own statement of defence, the CBE also asked the lawsuit be dismissed and claimed it is in no way responsible for Gregory's alleged sexual misbehaviour.

Since he was charged last February, police say they heard from 10 more women who say they were Gregory's victims and 35 more witnesses to his behaviour. 

Mathew Farrell and Jonathan Denis, lawyers for the plaintiffs, say they've heard from more alleged victims since the lawsuit was launched in November.

The three named plaintiffs spoke at a press conference in November. Two women detailed the sexual assaults they say they suffered in junior high beginning when they were 14 years old. 

Gregory 'never hid it,' says student

The third is a man who says he witnessed some of Gregory's sexually inappropriate behaviours and said the teacher "never hid it."

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 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.

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

now