Sentencing delayed for convicted child molester Gregor
Convicted child molester Gary Gregor and his victims will have to wait another month to learn if he’ll spend the rest of his life behind bars.
A state district judge on Wednesday granted a defense motion to delay sentencing of the former Santa Fe and Española schoolteacher, but not before allowing an out-of-town woman to make a tearful victim impact statement.
The woman, a relative of Gregor’s who said he lived with her family in Montana in the mid-1990s, told the court how Gregor had repeatedly held her down on his bed and fondled her when she was 6 years old.
“In my family, we refer to him as Uncle Gary, but we don’t say it as a term of endearment,” the woman said. “We say it as if he is a character in a book, a horror story. It suits him. He’s been my ghost for 24 years.”
As she read her statement, Gregor, clad in an orange jumpsuit, sat stony-faced at the defense table in the Santa Fe courtroom.
Shelby Bradley, Gregor’s public defender, called for the delay in his sentencing, arguing that his lawyers will rely heavily on a psychological evaluation that has yet to be completed. He also said closures and holidays have prevented him from finishing a motion to merge some of the counts against Gregor for the purposes of sentencing.
Prosecutors opposed the delay.
A jury in December convicted Gregor on 12 criminal counts related to the abuse and molestation of two female students in his fourth-grade classroom in an Española elementary school during the 2007-08 school year. He faces up to 168 years in prison.
Gregor also faces similar charges in three separate criminal cases — two related to allegations that he molested Santa Fe students during the 2003-04 school year and one involving charges that he molested a Rio Arriba County girl during the 2006-07 school year.
Accusations of misconduct followed Gregor throughout his career, according to lawsuits filed against him. He taught in Santa Fe from 2000-04, when school officials received reports from docents of a local museum that Gregor had behaved inappropriately with his students during a class field trip. Gregor received a neutral job recommendation from the district, opening the door to his hiring in Española, where he taught until 2009.
Española Public Schools already has paid out $9.1 million to settle civil lawsuits filed by Gregor’s accusers.
In the complaints against him, survivors allege Gregor selected specific students for special treatment, inviting them to sit next to him at the front of the classroom and using the opportunity to touch them under the table. He bought his victims gifts and told them he loved them, the suits claim. He also is alleged to have sexually assaulted students in classroom closets.
In some ways, the now 30-year-old relative’s story came in sharp contrast to the “grooming” behavior Gregor is alleged to have used on his victims in the much more public venue of an elementary school classroom.
Gregor, the woman said, often yelled at her for no apparent reason, excluded her from activities when she declined to sing his praises and held her down more forcefully when he was angry.
Though she didn’t recount any instances of it during her statement, the woman said she believes Gregor may have raped her. Investigators found evidence of vaginal tearing during a medical examination undertaken after her parents filed a police report against Gregor.
After allegations emerged in October that Gregor drugged one of his victims, the woman said she started to wonder if he had done the same to her.
A spokesman for New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas, whose office is prosecuting all four criminal cases against Gregor in New Mexico, said Montana prosecutors declined to file charges in the woman’s case.
Balderas recently sent a letter to his Montana counterpart asking him to review evidence in the woman’s case, the spokesman, David Carl, said.
At the end of her prepared statement, the survivor urged District Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer to hand down a lengthy sentence.
“Your honor, please cage this ghost permanently for the sake of claiming back all the peace, the joy and the safety for all who’ve been victimized, their families and anyone who might have ever been a victim of Gary Gregor had he not been caught,” she said.
The sentencing hearing is scheduled to resume at 1 p.m. Feb. 8. Meanwhile, Gregor’s second criminal trial is set to begin Jan. 15.