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Lawsuit to allege 2 Calgary teachers 'working together' to sexually abuse students

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 teacher accused of sexually assaulting junior high school students had help from a guidance counsellor — who has already been convicted of sexually assaulting children — with the two "providing cover" for each other, lawyers allege on the eve of a lawsuit being filed against the two men and the Calgary Board of Education.

Michael Gregory died by suicide in 2021, five days after he was criminally charged with 17 counts of sexual assault and sexual exploitation involving six girls. They had been students at John Ware Junior High, where Gregory taught between 1986 to 2006.

A $40-million lawsuit was filed in 2021 against the CBE and Gregory's estate. There are 16 alleged victims named as plaintiffs.

This lawsuit seeks damages for the sexual and emotional abuse suffered by the victims. It alleged junior high staff — including a vice-principal — were well aware of his abusive behaviour.

'A bad faith decision'

Last year, a new law firm, HMC Lawyers LLP, took over the 2021 case. At a press conference Monday, lawyer David Corrigan said the CBE abruptly "pulled the pin" on mediation just days before it was set to begin on March 12.

With hopes of a settlement dashed, Corrigan and co-counsel Meagan Potier say their clients were left devastated. They called the move by the CBE a "bad faith decision."

HMC says it will apply to the court to discontinue the class action and proceed, instead, with a mass tort action.

That means instead of a representative plaintiff pursuing the claim on behalf of other class members, the mass tort action would allow for plaintiffs to pursue their cases individually with a judge assessing on a case-by-case basis what compensation a victim is entitled to.

Lawyers Meagan Potier, left and David Corrigan, right, represent 16 plaintiffs who are suing the Calgary Board of Education. The plaintiffs say they were victimized by teachers Michael Gregory and Fred Archer between 1988 and 2004.
Lawyers Meagan Potier, left and David Corrigan, right, represent 16 plaintiffs who are suing the Calgary Board of Education. The plaintiffs say they were victimized by teachers Michael Gregory and Fred Archer between 1988 and 2004.

Lawyers Meagan Potier, left, and David Corrigan, right, represent 16 plaintiffs who are suing the Calgary Board of Education. The plaintiffs say they were victimized by teachers between 1988 and 2004. (Bob Sumner)

A revised statement of claim will be filed Tuesday to include naming a second John Ware teacher and former guidance councillor as a defendant.

That teacher previously admitted to sexually abusing students at another school.

CBC News is not naming the second teacher because the updated statement of claim has not yet been filed and he has not been charged criminally in connection with the allegations from his time at John Ware.

'Provided cover for each other'

Potier says the law firm has interviewed witnesses who will testify that Gregory and the second teacher were "working together to assist each other in abusing children" and that the two men "provided cover for each other with parents and teachers."

The lawyers say they have one client who alleges he was victimized by the second teacher when he was in Grade 7. That man is considering whether to go to police, according to Corrigan.

Corrigan says his law firm investigation uncovered witness evidence of at least seven reports of abuse made to teachers, principals and guidance counselors at John Ware School.

"So we know that, in fact, multiple teachers knew what was going on, multiple administrators knew what was going on and steps were never taken to correct that situation," said Corrigan.

"It's quite a story and it's caused our clients quite a bit of damage."

'Predatory behaviour'

Gregory's "predatory behaviour" allegedly included bringing students to his home and giving them gifts of money, concert tickets, jewelry, mixed tapes, alcohol and drugs.

In a written statement Monday, the CBE called the case a "complicated legal matter" with "multiple factors that can influence the timeline.

The board acknowledged the delay "may be difficult for the plaintiffs" but said it is "committed to moving forward with this insurer-led process.

"The CBE remains deeply disturbed by these allegations," reads the school board statement.

But Corrigan says the CBE continues to shirk its responsibility to former students, and after nine months of working toward a settlement, he hopes to book a liability trial for mid-2025.

"They haven't taken any responsibility whatsoever," said Corrigan.

"We don't know what the lives of these 16 people would have been like had they not encountered these two cretins."