Third set­tle­ment reached in case al­leg­ing sex­ual abuse

Santa Fe New Mexican - - LOCAL& REGION - By Phae­dra Hay­wood phay­wood@sfnewmex­i­

Es­pañola Pub­lic Schools has set­tled with an­other plain­tiff ac­cus­ing Gary Gre­gor, a for­mer teacher, of sex­u­ally as­sault­ing her when she was a stu­dent in his fourth-grade class.

This is the third set­tle­ment in a se­ries of law­suits al­leg­ing sex­ual abuse by Gre­gor, who also is fac­ing crim­i­nal charges in three sep­a­rate cases in Santa Fe and Rio Ar­riba coun­ties. Be­fore he taught in Es­pañola el­e­men­tary schools, Gre­gor was a teacher in Santa Fe, where he is ac­cused of re­peat­edly rap­ing at least one girl and mo­lest­ing an­other.

The lat­est set­tle­ment, reached in Septem­ber for $1.6 mil­lion in a pend­ing civil case, brings the to­tal amount the Es­pañola dis­trict has agreed to pay Gre­gor’s ac­cusers to $9.1 mil­lion, a fig­ure likely to bal­loon when the school dis­trict set­tles with three other plain­tiffs in the case.

Carolyn M. “Cam­mie” Ni­chols, an at­tor­ney rep­re­sent­ing claimants in cases against Gre­gor, filed a sim­i­lar law­suit last week against Santa Fe Pub­lic Schools on be­half of two women who say they were abused by Gre­gor when he was a fourth-grade teacher at the now closed Agua Fría El­e­men­tary School dur­ing the 2003-04 school year.

Gre­gor, 62, is charged with mul­ti­ple felonies — in­clud­ing crim­i­nal sex­ual con­tact and crim­i­nal sex­ual pen­e­tra­tion — in re­la­tion to his al­leged as­saults on school­child­ren. The charges were filed in 2017, three years af­ter Ni­chols filed her first civil suit against the Es­pañola school dis­trict over al­le­ga­tions against Gre­gor and eight years af­ter par­ents in Es­pañola had re­ported the teacher to po­lice — with no results.

One of the crim­i­nal cases pend­ing against Gre­gor is set to go to trial in De­cem­ber. If con­victed of all charges, he faces up to 165 years in prison.

Ni­chols has ar­gued in law­suits that ed­u­ca­tion of­fi­cials are li­able for dam­ages re­lated to Gre­gor’s be­hav­ior, in part be­cause they didn’t prop­erly screen him be­fore they hired him. She says he was ac­cused of wrong­do­ing in Utah and Mon­tana be­fore he started work­ing at Santa Fe Pub­lic Schools.

Af­ter he faced com­plaints in Santa Fe, the dis­trict asked Gre­gor to re­sign and agreed to give him a neu­tral rec­om­men­da­tion — al­low­ing him to con­tinue teach­ing in the Es­pañola dis­trict, where his al­leged abuse of chil­dren con­tin­ued.

Gary Gre­gor

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