Calgary school board and estate of dead teacher face sexual assault lawsuit

WARNING: The details in this story are disturbing. Discretion is advised.

The Calgary Board of Education and a teacher’s estate are being sued in a proposed $40-million class-action lawsuit over alleged sexual assaults that spanned 17 years.

A statement of claim filed by Guardian Law Group on Nov. 24 alleges Michael Gregory sexually assaulted and interfered with girls while he was teaching at John Ware School in Calgary.

Read more: Former Calgary teacher accused of historical sexual abuse of 6 students

A press release from Guardian Law alleges approximately 200 girls between the ages of 14 and 16 were sexually assaulted between 1989 to 2006.

In February 2021, Gregory, 57, was charged with six counts of sexual assault and 11 counts of sexual exploitation.

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Read more: Body of former Calgary teacher accused of historical sexual abuse found in B.C.

Gregory’s body was found on Vancouver Island on Feb. 22, 2021, in what sources called a “non-criminal and non-accidental” death.

Students outline allegations of grooming, sexual abuse

Three former students are named as the representative plaintiffs in the proposed class-action lawsuit.

In the statement of claim, two former students say they were groomed and sexually abused, highlighting a litany of incidents with Gregory. The claim alleges Gregory threw a female student wearing a white shirt in the shower in front of another teacher.

The statement of claim also alleges Gregory asked girls to take off their shirts and commented on their bodies. When he took students to lunch or dinner, the claim alleges Gregory engaged in “sexual intercourse and other sexual acts with minors who did not have the legal capacity to consent, at all, or to a person in a position of authority.”

Read more: Former students claim principals were notified of allegations about teacher charged with sexual assault

According to the statement of claim, a third student says he witnessed inappropriate behaviour but felt ignored and disbelieved when he reported it to the guidance counsellor — nothing came of it. The student confronted Gregory but was “intimidated physically and mentally,” the claim says.

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The lawsuit alleges Gregory was “adept at grooming his victims, normalizing his predatory behaviour and breaking down victims’ defences to his inappropriate advances,” using strategies like shock comedy, peer pressure and gift-giving as well as taking victims outside of familiar environments and bringing students to his house.

School board accused of negligence

The statement of claim also accuses the Calgary Board of Education of negligence by allowing the alleged abuse to happen, claiming the CBE had “actual or constructive knowledge” of Gregory’s actions and failed to act upon complaints.

“CBE took no steps to prevent or mitigate the harm they had been told Gregory was capable of, despite the supporting evidence available to them,” the claim says.

It alleges school staff knew that Gregory “showed a greater degree of interest in pretty female students than any of his other students,” noting that he would take students to lunch, drive them home and invite them to garden at his place.

“Gregory would regularly comment about female students’ bodies and sexuality in front of other staff,” the claim says.

“Gregory would loudly and regularly engage in tickling and wrestling bouts with female students after school in his classroom, during which he was often sexually aroused. On outdoor education excursions, and in the view of or with the knowledge of other staff members, Gregory would spend the night alone in the tents of female students and former students.”

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The claim says Gregory’s teaching licence was suspended following an Alberta Teachers’ Association investigation, adding he quit teaching in 2006.

Click to play video: 'Former Calgary teacher facing historical sex abuse charges found dead' Former Calgary teacher facing historical sex abuse charges found dead

Former Calgary teacher facing historical sex abuse charges found dead – Feb 23, 2021

The CBE told Global News via email it has not received the statement of claim and cannot comment on the legal matter.

A press conference with three plaintiffs and their lawyer is scheduled for Monday.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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