Click on the link below to read about Gary Gregor, a convicted child rapist who was able to bounce across multiple New Mexico school districts despite multiple accusations of sexual misconduct.
Edmundo Carrillo of the Albuquerque Journal wrote: "An investigative series by the Journal found that education authorities repeatedly failed to act against Gregor – or report him to police – despite repeated accusations of sexual misconduct over the years. He has been cited in national news media as an example of “passing the trash,” when teachers move among school districts despite histories of allegations of molestation".
This monster was able to bounce from district to district without repercussions because he was let go quietly while school districts only focused on possible legal consequences. Meanwhile, children get sexually manipulated, abused, and in Gregor's case raped while school districts only protect themselves. Read the article at the link above. It is truly awful.
I have seen all of this in action as I disclosed my own abuse. Let's highlight what I have seen below:
1. Rodney Wright was able to secure another teaching position mere months after being reported for sexual misconduct to Artesia Public Schools. I have spoken to this victim so I know the report happened. I was still in contact with Mr. Wright at the time, so I know he was teaching on the Mescalero Apache Reservation soon after being asked to leave the Artesia Public Schools. How could this be possible? I know Reservations have their own rules and regulations but did no one notify them? Did they call for references? Did people in Artesia give him references after knowing of his sexual misconduct?
I also don't know if Artesia Public Schools reported Rodney Wright to the police, which is required in reported cases of sexual misconduct. I sure hope they did because that would be an extremely disappointing non-action by a district claiming to be one of the best in state. Like I said, I am unsure if they did and I am only suggesting that it might be looked into by interested parties.
Why do I question this? Because I have yet to hear from anyone in Artesia Public Schools. Their school administration includes several of my former coaches and mentors that were central figures in my Artesia life. Why haven't I heard for them? I am pretty convinced they are protecting their school district over pledging support to a former student who was sexually abused by one of their own. I sure hope I am wrong as these are my opinions based off what I know and feel.
Artesia Public Schools let Mr. Wright leave very quietly, basically overnight, and with no one knowing why. Some of them have known about my abuse for over a decade. Yet, I haven't heard from anyone, not even once.
2. More recently, Mr. Wright was let go from the Belen School District. It was soon after my report to the New Mexico Public Education Department, so one might assume my disclosure was the reason he was let go from his position. But no one truly knows because yet again it was done very quietly. I have spoken to multiple people from Belen, all of which commented how he was there one day and gone the next. Sound familiar?
The administration of Belen Consolidated Schools is aware of my blog. I have heard from the superintendent, but in a very professional manner. He asked a specific question that was clearly aimed at protecting his school district legally. It was under the guise of "we are deeply concerned about what we read", but it came down to him looking out for the school district and not its children. How do I know this? Because he went out of his way to search and contact me through my work email because "the school district's lawyers wanted our communication to remain professional". Then I got it. It wasn't about pledging support. It was fishing for what I know and have. They are worried about this getting out and/or they are worried about new victims coming forward. Bottom line, they don't want to get sued.
It all comes down lawyers, litigation, and money. This "pass the trash" culture is not about protecting victims at all.
3. The New Mexico PED moves ridiculously slow. I made my disclosure to the PED on July 7th, 2020 and was assigned a case number. It was immediately assigned a 2 year statute of limitations, meaning they have 2 years to complete my case. That was depressing as 2 years seemed like a very long time. So I reached out again and asked why my case was assigned a 2 year statute. I was told "we only assign 60 days when the alleged is fired or resigns once the allegations are brought forward". I was given the impression for months that Mr. Wright was placed on administrative leave. I then find out he was let go or asked to resign quite early in the process. Yet, my case remained a 2 year statute. The investigation was completed by September, with 3 victims disclosing, but there has been absolutely no movement. I only hear from the PED when I contact them. I call every month, sometimes twice a month. I get the same answers every time. It has been 233 days since I made my disclosure. Rodney Wright still has his teaching license.
Now that I have read about Gary Gregor, I am not the least bit surprised.
So what steps can be taken in the right direction? I recently watched a report on House Bill 128 that is working its way through the New Mexico Legislature. House Bill 128, which at this point has bipartisan support, "would make it so if someone does get fired for inappropriate behavior, it is not kept secret. School districts will be allowed to publicly disclose the reasons. In addition, even before they get the job, the hiring process will involve looking into past misconduct allegations instead of just an FBI background check, which may only reveal criminal convictions" as reported by Lysée Mitri of KRQE News. See her report at the link below.
House Bill 128 is completely necessary and hopefully will be adopted by more States. But aren't we all a little shocked it doesn't already exist? The current system is set up to protect the accused and the districts they leave. It doesn't protect victims at all.
You what the funny thing is? As they read my story, these districts are all rushing to protect themselves, but taking legal action never crossed my mind when I started this blog. With my knowledge of statutes of limitation in sexual abuse cases, I sought only to tell my story and make sure Rodney Wright could no longer teach and/or have access to children and students. I really thought the school districts involved would hear my story and share ways they are making change. Maybe we could even work together? But I guess legalities and possible litigation outweighed compassion, empathy, and support.
This post, and my survivor story, show the uphill battle sexual abuse victims have once they disclose their abuse. It is not a downhill journey when the bravery to come forward is finally found. It is an uphill battle filled with stigmas, roadblocks, bureaucratic red tape, and anxiety filled nights of wondering if you did the right thing coming forward.
This system, like so many others, is completely broken. I hope to see House Bill 128 pass in New Mexico and I hope to see more bills like it get proposed around the country.
Don't the monsters creep away into the shadows. Let survivors grab the spotlight and shine it right on them.