50-year-old driving instructor allegedly filmed himself molesting teenage girls during lessons

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A driving instructor in California is now in jail and out of a job after he allegedly placed a secret camera inside his vehicle so that he could record himself fondling students during lessons.

A little over a year ago, Richard Joseph Banks, 50, began working as a driving instructor for the American Driving School in El Cajon, California, a city of more than 100,000 residents about 15 miles east of San Diego. ADS owner Daniel Tackett told KFMB, a local CBS affiliate, that for much of his time with the company, Banks received positive reviews from parents, who occasionally even recommended his name to other families.

However, Tackett claimed he immediately suspended Banks last November after hearing reports that Banks had been molesting some of his underage female students as young as 15.

Capt. Mike Holden of the San Diego Police Department, which is involved in the investigation, painted a harrowing picture of Banks’ scheme. According to Holden, Banks, who is a father, secretly installed a recording device inside the vehicle used for driving lessons and angled the device so that it would capture his students’ “private areas” as he fondled them.

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“The assaults happened during … driving lessons and while the instructor secretly recorded his young victims,” Holden said.

So far, investigators believe that between April and November of last year, Banks molested 11 girls, though they fear that there may be other victims. Those with information about these or other allegations against Banks are encouraged to contact San Diego PD.

Last Thursday, Banks was arrested and charged with 32 total counts, including six felony counts of using a minor to create obscene material. Other charges include sexual battery and invasion of privacy. He is currently being held without bail at Vista Detention Facility. He is scheduled to appear in court for arraignment on Tuesday.

ADS owner Tackett, who has since fired Banks, called the alleged assaults “devastating.” “We’ve been doing this for a long time and we take it very seriously so when something like this happens, it’s just devastating to us.”

“We were shocked by the allegations against Joe,” Tackett also said. “His actions are his alone, and they violate the trust and policies of our company and those of the DMV regarding inappropriate behavior. He hasn’t taught any students after SDPD notified us of their investigation. We’ve always encouraged parents to ride on the lessons for observation of our teaching methods. As with all DMV licensed instructors, Joe passed a DOJ background check before he was hired.”

Further reporting from KFMB indicates that Banks was charged for a series of crimes in Texas in the 1990s. The charges against him included commercial burglary, forgery, and evading arrest. It is unclear whether he was ever convicted or whether those charges appeared in the DOJ background check ADS performed on him.

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