A Santa Maria Superior Court judge on Thursday increased the bail for a Buellton man prosecutors claim engaged in inappropriate sexual conduct with several male teenagers.
At the request of the Santa Barbara District Attorney's Office, which cited a need to maintain public safety, Judge John McGregor increased the bail for Gregory Ray Scott to $500,000 — nearly double the previous amount of $275,000.
"The fact that the defendant is charged with various sexual acts with minors or sexually-related crimes with minors, that the acts were committed upon eight separate victims over a significant amount of time is especially concerning," Deputy District Attorney Fabiana Fede wrote in her motion requesting a bail increase to a minimum of $350,000.
Deputy Public Defender Lea Villegas, who was appointed to represent Ray, opposed the prosecutor's request on the belief that it lacked good cause. Granting the increase would be "arbitrary exercise of judicial power," Villegas wrote in her opposition, as Ray has not threatened any witnesses or demonstrated an intent to become a fugitive since he was remanded to Santa Barbara County Jail.
"At this point, it's a play to the media and a play to the public," she said Thursday. "He is not a threat in the situation that he is in right now."
McGregor's modification marked the third bail review for the 52-year-old yearbook salesman since his April 9 arrest by Santa Barbara County sheriff's officers. At the time of his arrest, investigators suspected that Ray used Grindr — which describes itself as "the largest social networking app for gay, bi, trans and queer people" — to make contact with three Santa Ynez Valley boys ranging in ages from 13 to 17 years old.
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At the time of his arrest, bail was set at $1.2 million, as Ray faced 13 felony counts stemming from alleged instances of sex crimes. On May 23, prosecutors filed an amended criminal complaint, alleging five additional victims and eight new charges, bringing the total number of victims up to eight.
Allegations of Ray's inappropriate sexual conduct with boys spans more than a decade, dating as far back as October 2007, according to the amended complaint. A former print sales consultant for Canadian yearbook publishing company Friesens LLC, Ray traveled to schools between San Jose and Los Angeles County to consult on yearbooks.
Sheriff's investigators first began an investigation on March 18 after a Santa Ynez Valley High School teacher overheard a conversation involving Ray and reported it to administrators. Given the nature of his occupation, Santa Barbara County sheriff's spokeswoman Kelly Hoover said investigators believe there may be more victims outside Santa Barbara County.
None of the alleged conduct is believed to have occurred on the Santa Ynez Valley High School campus, according to Hoover.
Ray is due back in court July 18, when a preliminary hearing date could be set.