Assaulted 'almost every day,' says former student as 20 more detail teacher Michael Gregory's alleged abuse

New details on the scope of Michael Gregory's abuses as a teacher are outlined in court documents filed this week at the Calgary courthouse as part of a proposed class action lawsuit. 

WARNING: This story contains details of abuse that may be triggering

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)

Junior high teacher Michael Gregory always had a few girls in his class who were his favourites, and if you were a favourite, you were one of the popular kids. 

But there was a dark, open secret — those "favourites" say they were being sexually abused by Gregory.

New details on the scope of Gregory's abuses are outlined in court documents filed this week at the Calgary courthouse as part of a proposed class action lawsuit. 

Former students now allege the Grade 9 teacher would wait until girls in his classes turned 14 and then aggressively, sexually pursue some of them.

In their sworn statements, several former students say Gregory told them he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer and would show them what appeared to be a doctor's note prescribing orgasms as treatment. 

'Dangerous, demeaning and disrespectful acts'

Although the CBE denied knowledge of Gregory's predatory behaviour, several former students say their parents complained to other teachers, the principal or the guidance counsellor, but there were no consequences.

Gregory worked at John Ware Junior High in Calgary from 1986 to 2006, when the Alberta Teachers' Association (ATA) revoked his licence after he pleaded guilty to misconduct, admitting he had "abused" children mentally and physically.

At the time, the ATA found that Gregory "participated in dangerous, demeaning and disrespectful acts with his students."

Gregory took his own life in February 2021 just five days after he was charged with 17 sexual offences against former students.

Since then, dozens of Gregory's former students have come forward to report abuses to both police and lawyers connected to a proposed $40-million lawsuit against the teacher's estate and the Calgary Board of Education (CBE).

Both defendants say they had no idea about Gregory's behaviour, are not responsible for it and have asked that the lawsuit be dropped. 

Kelly Schneider, second from left, and Eryn MacKenzie, far right, say they were sexually abused by teacher Michael Gregory when they were students at John Ware Junior High. Cody Bonkowsky, far left, says he witnessed some of Gregory's behaviours. The three are named plaintiffs in a proposed class action lawsuit against the CBE filed by lawyer Jonathan Denis, second from right. (Elissa Carpenter/CBC)

20 more alleged victims come forward 

When the claim was first filed in November by lawyers Jonathan Denis and Mathew Farrell, there were three named plaintiffs.

Farrell says 20 more women and men have come forward to join the suit.

In affidavits filed by former students, men and women detail the abuses they suffered, other teachers who were told about Gregory's behaviour and the life-long effects of the trauma. 

There are no publication bans on the names of the students who have come forward since November, but CBC News will identify them by initials since some are alleged victims of sexual assault and have not given express consent to be identified. 

AL: Assaulted 'almost every day'

AL said Gregory's abuses were constant. 

"I was assaulted by him almost every day from January to June of my Grade 9 year," she said in her affidavit.

Gregory would get AL to lie in his lap and suck on his fingers while he drove her around. 

One of his "favourite tricks," she said, was to have her come to the front of the room to look over her work while he touched her with his hands concealed by a platform at the front of the room.

But the classroom and the car were not the only places where AL said abuses took place.

'Worst abuses' were at the farm

Gregory was known to invite girls to his farm.

"Some of the worst abuses happened when I was there," she said, describing "constant groping."

He was constantly trying to get AL to give him oral sex, according to the affidavit. 

Gregory told AL he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer and one of the prescribed treatments was oral sex.

She said he even showed her a letter from a doctor.

AR: 'I thought I was falling in love with him'

When AR lost her virginity in Grade 8, it was "well known" at the school, she said. 

That's when Gregory took an interest in her, she said.

Another regular at the teacher's acreage, AR said she was provided alcohol and given the same story as AL: Gregory was dying of cancer and the only way to prolong his life was to reach orgasm. 

"I thought I was falling in love with him, so I agreed to help," said AR in her affidavit.

The two were having sex when she was 14 years old. 

And they weren't hiding it. AR said it was "very obvious" and that the two "flirted shamelessly" in front of other teachers and students.

Teacher saw, 'walked away'

On one occasion, AR said, a gym teacher saw Gregory grope her.

"We made eye contact.… He simply turned and walked away," reads her affidavit.

On another occasion, a guidance counsellor walked into a room when she was sitting on Gregory's lap.

AR said the counsellor left saying, "I'll give you two a minute."

By the time AR was 15 she was in trouble with the law. AR said she has lived with severe anxiety and depression ever since and has also dealt with drug and alcohol addiction.

DS: Questioned 'my own self-worth'

In her written statement, DS she said was regularly groped by Gregory.

DS said Gregory would have her sit on the floor in the classroom near his desk and would then touch himself through his shorts where only she could see. 

"I started to question my own self-worth based on my looks and how sexual I was," she wrote in her affidavit.

One time, at Gregory's home, she said she pulled away after he convinced her to lie with him on his sofa. He went cold after that.

"I would still visit Gregory at the school, even then, trying to recapture the feeling of being his favourite student, but it was never the same," wrote DS.

Reported to principal, no action taken

The impact of the teacher's alleged abuse went far beyond DS's junior high years.

"I was highly sexual at an early age thinking that this was necessary in order to get men to like me," she said.

When DH's parents learned that Gregory had wrestled their daughter to the ground and straddled her, they complained to the principal. They told him about the teacher's habit of touching girls' bellybuttons, talking about their bras and disclosed that he was having a well-known sexual relationship with one of the Grade 9 students.

They even gave him the name of the girl.

No action was taken, DH said.

"The principal regarded my parents and me like we were being ridiculous, and clearly discounted our concerns," said DH in her affidavit. 

She was ultimately pulled out of the school by her parents.

The boys

The boys in Gregory's classes were often targets of a different kind of abuse, the affidavits allege.

They were often humiliated, belittled and sometimes physically abused by Gregory, according to the documents.

In her sworn statement, AL said Gregory was hard on the boys in his classes, often "belittling or humiliating them or being physically rough with them."

In the mid-1990s, HD was on a canoe trip with fellow classmates and Gregory. The teens were throwing duck poop at each other and HD accidentally got some in his teacher's canoe.

HD: 'I lost all my friends'

HD said in his affidavit that Gregory picked him up and took him to a pile of cow manure that he rubbed in the student's face. 

Afterward, HD told his parents what had happened. When their complaint to the school went nowhere, they filed a police complaint.

After that, HD said, Gregory made his life miserable. 

"I lost all my friends and was ostracized," he wrote. 

HD said he was pulled out of outdoor education and ordered to work with the school janitor, helping him clean.

Eventually his parents pulled him out of the school.

JR: Gregory said 'he would kill me'

A few years later, JR was a John Ware student.

He was on one of Gregory's canoe trips when he came across two girls naked from the waist down and asked what was going on.

"Gregory wasted no time, grabbing me by the throat, slamming me backwards and telling me that if I ever said anything about what I saw, he would kill me and he would kill my family," wrote JR in his affidavit.

JR said he told another teacher who advised him not to say anything. That teacher told JR he didn't' have to go to Gregory's class anymore but would still receive a passing grade.

"That's what I did," said JR.

There is no time limit on how long a victim has to report a sexual assault in Canada.

Victims of sexual assault in the Calgary area can report it to police by calling the non-emergency police number at 403-266-1234, or 911 if they are in immediate danger.

The Luna Child and Youth Advocacy Centre helps young people and their families in all phases of their healing journey.