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San Diego driving instructor accused of groping 16-year-old girl during lesson

A driving instructor faces a misdemeanor battery charge and other counts after a 16-year-old student accused him of groping her — parking in a semi-secluded area and massaging her thighs, calves and entire back — during a lesson last fall.

The 44-year-old instructor pleaded not guilty last month in San Diego Superior Court to all three charges he faces, which also include false imprisonment and molestation.

According the San Diego City Attorney’s Office, the teen said the instructor massaged and kissed her hand and instructed her to park near Fiesta Island where he massaged her during a two-hour lesson on Sept. 30.

Details of the case are contained in an affidavit from Deputy City Attorney Cameron Haas seeking a warrant to arrest the instructor. An official at the driving school where he worked referred inquiries to the instructor’s defense attorney, Ari Lieberman, who said his client “absolutely denies the allegations against him.”

Lieberman said in an email that his client “works very hard as the sole earner of his family and supports them financially. He would never risk or even think about doing anything to put his family’s life in jeopardy.”

In the affidavit, the teen said the instructor picked her up from her La Jolla school for the pre-arranged driving lesson. As they drove, she said, he commented on her appearance and asked if she had a boyfriend.

After showing her how to park, he massaged her hand, said he was a boxer then massaged her thigh under her skirt. He then instructed her to drive to a spot near Fiesta Island, where they parked and he massaged her entire legs and back. He also told her he was single and invited her home for a full body massage, the affidavit alleges.

The victim — who said she froze during the encounter — asked him to drop her at a café instead of her home, so he would not know where she lived.

Lieberman said his client has provided driver’s training to more than 500 students, and has “completed approximately 5,000 rides with Uber and is rated at 4.95 stars.”

“These allegations are extremely inconsistent with his employment history and reputation,” the attorney said.

The City Attorney’s Office asked anyone with information about the case to contact their office.

Misdemeanor charges generally carry potential sentences of six months or a year, as well as fines.



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