SANTA FE — A former educational assistant at Fairview Elementary School in Española testified Wednesday that she went to then-Principal Ruby Montoya several times during the 2007-2008 school year with concerns that teacher Gary Gregor was engaging in inappropriate conduct with female students.
Jennifer Chavez also testified that her own daughter, a student at the school, told her that Gregor told students that it was OK for a man to marry a little girl.
No one from the school ever reported Gregor to police, according to civil litigation that has resulted in payouts totaling $9.2 million by the Española school district to girls who say they were abused by the former teacher.
Chavez’s testimony came a day after one of Gregor’s alleged victims, now 21, testified that she also went to principal Montoya, to complain that Gregor was constantly touching her leg, but the principal responded by telling students to stop spreading false allegations. The same witness said Gregor repeatedly touched and rubbed her private parts but that she didn’t want to tell the principal about that at the time.
Gregor is on trial on 13 total counts of criminal sexual penetration of a minor, criminal sexual contact of a minor and kidnapping with intent to commit a sexual offense for sexually assaulting two girls while he was a fourth grade teacher at Fairview in 2007-2008.
It’s one of four criminal cases Attorney General Hector Balderas filed last year against Gregor, for similar alleged crimes against students in Santa Fe as well as Española.
Chavez, the educational assistant, said in court Wednesday that she went to principal Montoya two or three times to express concerns about inappropriate conduct by Gregor. One time she reported she would see Gregor sitting between two female students at lunch every day with his hands under the table.
“I told her that I’m not accusing him of anything, but his hands are under the table,” Chavez said. “Can you talk to him? It just doesn’t look right. She listened and said she would talk to him.” Chavez said she assumed Montoya spoke with Gregor because she later saw him with his hands on top of the table.
But Chavez said she also told Montoya about how Gregor held hands with girls in the playground and strange lectures he would give to students.
Chavez’s daughter was in a different fourth grade class at Fairview, but Gregor would often take over her class for history lessons. Chavez said her daughter told her that Gregor gave a lecture on polygamy as well as saying it was fine for a man to wed a young girl. “They’re fourth graders and I don’t think they needed to hear that,” Chavez said. “I asked her (Montoya) why he was telling students this, and she said he was trying to tie it into the curriculum.” Chavez’s daughter is not an alleged victim of Gregor. Montoya is expected to testify today.