The Calgary Board of Education isn’t liable for the actions of a teacher accused of sexual assault and didn’t have a duty to care for his alleged student victims, the organization claims in a statement of defence.
- Warning: this story involves sexual assault, which may be triggering to some readers
The motion was in response to a $40 million class action lawsuit filed against the CBE and the estate of Michael Gregory, who was a teacher at John Ware Junior High School in southwest Calgary between 1986 and 2006. The statement of defence also asked that the suit be dismissed.
Gregory was charged with 17 counts of sexual assault after a number of former students went to police and he took his own life days later.
The lawsuit, obtained by CTV News and written by lawyer Jonathan Denis, names three plaintiffs who were all students of Gregory’s. They each alleged he sexually assaulted them on multiple occasions.
The incidents occurred both inside the school and while on school trips, the document says.
The lawsuit also claims that Gregory “became adept” at grooming the students, including giving them concert tickets, drugs, alcohol and money.
It alleges the CBE knew about Gregory’s actions and administrators and staff members did nothing.
The statement of defence says the CBE “denies each and every allegation,” as well as denying that it owed a duty of care to the plaintiffs at the relevant time. It also denies that it was “vicariously liable for the alleged misconduct” of its current and former employees.
Denis issued a statement Monday, saying his clients were “saddened and surprised” by the motion.
“Especially the refusal to acknowledge any duty to protect its students,” it read.
“This action asserts that there was not a proper process in place for investigating complaints and taking action where appropriate. Our clients are prepared to have their claims proven in court with the goal is that nothing similar ever happens to other students.”
Gregory admitted to abusive behaviour against students in 2006, according to an Alberta Teachers’ Association disciplinary ruling, but that information was not forwarded to Calgary police, which the ATA was not obligated to do.
Gregory made the admissions in an agreed statement of fact submitted as part of a two-day hearing, held in March and May 2006 which resulted in his teaching licence being suspended.
In it, he admitted to “incidents of inappropriate behaviour,” which included an inappropriate relationship with two female junior high school students with whom he discussed his emotional, health and marital issues.
The ruling says he “initiated and participated in frequent text messaging, e-mailing and phoning at all hours of the day and night; and speculated how it would be to have a sexual relationship with them.”
Along with providing students with alcohol, he also admitted to discussing the body types of some female students and inappropriate physical contact that included throwing rocks and even a dead fish at students while on a school canoe trip, as well as wrestling students to the ground and “pounding on them to teach them a lesson.”