The Buellton man accused of sexually abusing three teenage boys from the Santa Ynez Valley had his bail substantially reduced Monday, down to $275,000 from $1 million.

Santa Maria Superior Court Judge McGregor said bail for Gregory Scott Ray was originally set at $1.2 million so the court could later review the serial nature of Ray's abuse allegations, his employment and access to minors, as well as the potential for additional alleged victims to come forward. But without new charges and in accordance with the established bail schedule (the uniform list that sets the amount of bail for specific offences), McGregor reduced the seven-figure amount by more than three-quarters of its original amount.

Monday's reduction marks the second bail decrease for the 52-year-old Buellton resident since pleading not guilty to 13 counts of child sexual abuse, including lewd and lascivious acts, sodomy, oral copulation and sexual penetration with a foreign object. Last Friday, Judge Patricia Kelly partially reduced Ray's bail to $1 million.

Under the terms set Monday, Ray would be placed on GPS monitoring (with to-be-determined "exclusion zones") and be prohibited from accessing the internet should he bail out of Santa Barbara County Jail. Neither Kelly's nor McGregor's decreases were final, and bail could still be increased if additional charges are filed.

Deputy Public Defender Lea Villegas, who is representing Ray, previously called the million-dollar bail "excessive" and akin to a no-bail hold. She sought to have Ray released on his own recognizance, or to have bail reduced to $30,000 — an amount she believed was sufficient to ensure his attendance at future hearings.

"There are no facts that could tend to show his release would result in bodily harm to others," Villegas said, noting that some of the public safety considerations raised by the Santa Barbara County District Attorney's Office could be addressed through conditions of his release.

A dozen letters of support from family members and close friends were submitted to the court in support of Ray's bail reduction. They describe the 52-year-old father of two as a generous, trustworthy man who is involved in his community. None of the letters say he would be a flight risk.

"There is a community of people to support him and to ensure he continues to be responsible and come to court appearances," Villegas said.

Prosecutor Fabiana Fede called Ray's actions of child molestation "far-reaching" given his access to children as a yearbook sales consultant and through social media.

According to documents filed in Santa Maria Superior Court, Ray met three juvenile male students from the Santa Ynez Valley — ranging in ages from 13 to 17 — between August 2014 and November 2018 using the Grindr dating app. Two of the boys claim the alleged sexual encounters were mutual, while one of the children, who met Ray at age 14, claimed he felt "uncomfortable" and did not reciprocate Ray's advances during a previous interaction.

Three other children have been interviewed in connection to the allegations, according to Fede, and several other alleged victims have come forward.

No new charges have been filed against Ray as of Monday afternoon.

Reach reporter Mathew Burciaga at 805-739-2205 or mburciaga@leecentralcoastnews.com. Follow him on Twitter @mathewburciaga

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Reporter

Mathew Burciaga is a Santa Maria Times reporter who covers education, agriculture and public safety. Prior to joining the Times, Mathew ran a 114-year-old community newspaper in Wyoming. He owns more than 40 pairs of crazy socks from across the globe.

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