SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – A northern New Mexico teacher accused of sexually assaulting school kids has walked away from another deal and will now go to trial.
Gary Gregor is accused of raping and molesting two students at an Española elementary school between 2007 and 2008. He’s charged with several counts of criminal sexual penetration, kidnapping and criminal sexual contact with a minor.
During a Monday afternoon hearing at Santa Fe District Court, for the second time, Gregor rejected a plea deal in the case. The latest deal would have resulted in a guaranteed sentence of between 19 and 50 years in state prison.
In response to Gregor’s last-minute decision Monday, New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas said his prosecutors are “done playing games,” and now stand ready to take Gregor on in the trial.
“We’re going to pursue maximum accountability,” said Balderas. “There will be no leniency in us fighting for justice when we bring these victims forward.”
Gregor, who now faces up to 165 years in prison under the maximum sentence, is accused of sexually assaulting two underage girls at Fairview Elementary in Española. He was arrested in May 2017.
Gregor taught at Fairview Elementary School between 2006 and 2009, following a teaching stint with Santa Fe Public Schools between 1998 and 2004.
Gregor’s accusers are students the former teacher is said to have taught during a fourth-grade class at Fairview Elementary. The two young girls claim Gregor assaulted them on multiple occasions.
Gregor’s accusers were in the courtroom Monday, thinking he’d accept the plea deal. It’s the second time they’ve seen Gregor change his mind.
“I think it’s regrettable that the defendant made survivors and victims have to come to court to have to hear him reject a plea, but we are moving forward,” said Balderas.
Gregor’s attorney Jason Bowles spoke of Gregor’s change of heart during the short hearing, but offered no explanation as to Gregor’s mindset.
“Mr. Gregor has rejected this additional plea that the State has offered and will elect to go to trial,” said Bowles.
Gregor didn’t say anything in court other than to acknowledge that a trial would happen after the New Year.
The case represents the first criminal charges against Gregor in New Mexico. However, Gregor has been accused of fondling underage girls since the 90s in both New Mexico and Utah.
The accusations have been outlined in three different civil lawsuits, two of which were settled by Española Public Schools. The first case in 2014 resulted in a $3.2 million settlement. The second case in 2016 resulted in a $4.3 million settlement. A third lawsuit is still pending against Gregor in New Mexico Federal Court.
The Attorney General’s Office now hopes a trial will finally bring closure.
“For too many years, these survivors and victims were ignored, and this case is also about shedding light on the horrific tragedy these young ladies experienced,” said Balderas.
Gregor is being held in the Rio Arriba Detention Facility. His trial is expected to start on Jan. 19, 2018.