CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Maurice Grier has decided to reveal his identity and come forward to tell his story of how a former Charlotte-Mecklenburg School (CMS) teacher sexually abused him.
It started when he was a freshman at West Charlotte High School. Grier saw the marching band and knew he wanted to join because he played the trumpet.
Grier joined the band, ultimately, not knowing it would turn out to be a dark time in his life. Grier says Duncan Gray, who was the band director, took a special interest in him. Grier says he thought Gray was grooming him to be a better person.
"Everyday after practice Mr. Gray would take me home, often at times I'd be the last one to go home," Grier said.
The former student said Gray would complement him, which he thought were words of encouragement to help push him to greater things.
"Even made a statement to me 'how could you have so much potential and be so young?'" Grier said.
Grier said that special attention Gray was giving him lasted for about a year. He thinks Gray targeted him in order to take advantage of him.
"In my mind I'm thinking I can look up to this man," Grier said. "This man has taken an interest in developing me to be a better person, so I trusted him and he gave me that trust."
Grier says the encounters would start with just a touch on the leg, but one day that attention turned into a crime.
"I can say that it happened within the band room auditorium area." Grier said.
The former CMS student says Gray touched him inappropriately and then something happened before things went too far.
"I remember someone kicking the door," Grier said. "Immediately everything stopped. I remember the band director pushing me to the side, then he went out one door and I went out the other."
After that encounter, Grier had a realization.
"What am I doing?" Grier said. "Of course that's me conceptually thinking this is all my doing, this was my fault. After that I did everything I could to not go back to the band room."
He ended up going back to the band but kept his distance from Gray. Grier said he began to get involved with other activities and misbehave to keep his mind off what happened between him and Gray. He kept this a secret for nearly six years.
"I can't say anything, and no one is going to believe me, I need to go back," Grier said. "I need to stay in the band and I need to make it seem like everything is OK."
Grier says that was hard to do. He even convinced his brother not to join the band because he feared what happened to him would happen to his brother. Years later, Grier slipped and told his mother about the abuse. He says his mother didn't take the news very well.
"My parents to this day blame themselves because they saw that I was acting out, but couldn't figure it out," Grier said. "It's not their fault either, because I didn't speak."
Once the secret was out, the family went to police. Police had Grier call Gray on the phone to look for a confession.
"I asked him about the incident and how he felt about the incident," Grier said.
In the end, Gray pleaded guilty in December 2016 for taking indecent liberties against Grier. Once that case was over, Grier thought it was time to reveal his identity to help with his healing process.
"I decided to tell my story now because there is power and strength in that," Grier said.
Grier also wanted to come forward to offer a message to other students who may have been sexually assaulted by an adult or a CMS teacher.
"It's not your fault," Grier said. "It may seem that way. It may feel that way. The adult knows what's right or wrong. The adult is fully capable in making decisions."
The former CMS student is now a senior at UNC Chapel Hill and says he will more than likely go into a field that deals with victims of abuse.
"Hopefully one day I'll be able to make a difference in whatever I do," he said. "And make life easier for others."
He says he doesn't want to call himself a victim, but rather a survivor.
"This is a life experience - something that has made me strong and not weak." Grier said.
Gray served no jail time for his crime. The reason was he was a first time offender and he was charged with a class one felony. Those factors prevented Gray from going to jail. He is now on probation and must register as a sex offender. He must also pay for Grier's counseling.
"The only weakness that I developed would be in that moment was my mental health," Grier said. "And not dealing with it head on - being afraid - developing that fear."
Grier says he is not fully healed from this ordeal and says he must take it one day at a time.
"Everyday is a new day," Grier said. "You just have to wake up confident and assured, and in my case - prayerful."