SoCal Driving Instructor Richard Joseph Banks Accused of Molesting, Secretly Filming Students

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San Diego Driving Instructor Richard Joseph Banks Arrested for Molesting Students

San Diego Driving Instructor Richard Joseph Banks Arrested for Molesting Students

Jan 12, 2024

A Southern California driving instructor was arrested Thursday on suspicion of molesting and secretly filming students, San Diego Police officials said.

Richard “Joseph” Banks, 50, of Escondido was taken into custody by law enforcement officials and booked into jail for child abuse and molestation, sexual battery, possession of child pornography, production of child pornography, and installation and use of a surreptitious recording device, ABC 10 San Diego reported.

Police have asserted that Banks committed the sexual assaults during driving lessons while he was secretly video recording his young victims. The former San Diego-area driving instructor faces nearly three-dozen sex crime counts, including:

  • Six felony counts of creating child pornography;
  • One felony count of lewd and lascivious acts with a minor;
  • Nine misdemeanor counts of sexual battery;
  • Seven misdemeanor counts of invasion of privacy with a recording device and;
  • Nine misdemeanor counts of child molesting

Banks is believed to have engaged in the various sex crimes while employed as an instructor for the El Cajon-based American Driving School, according to police. San Diego police officials added that Banks’ alleged victims were all female students who had enrolled in driving courses.

While investigating these allegations, detectives learned Banks was using secret cameras hidden in the instructional car to record his students’ private areas during lessons,” police said, according to ABC 10.

Police also confirmed that they had identified nearly a dozen victims who were allegedly molested by Richard “Joseph” Banks. Most of the survivors were teenage girls under the age of 18, according to a report from NBC 7 San Diego.

Following Banks’ arrest on multiple sex crimes charges, the American Driving School released the following statement:

“We were shocked by the allegations against Joe. 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 [Department of Justice] background check before he was hired.”

“The owner of the company, Daniel Tackett, said Banks’ last lesson was on Nov. 12. Three days later, Banks notified Tackett of a search warrant against the instructor, and American Driving School canceled any future classes with Banks,” NBC 7 reported.

According to the American Driving School’s website, “every driving lesson is a PRIVATE lesson, with just one Student in the car, so the full two hours of attention are devoted to developing skills for that driver only.

Banks is reportedly no longer employed by the American Driving School.

Police have indicated that while they have identified at least a dozen victims abused by Banks, they believe there may be several dozen more. San Diego Police Department (SDPD) Northeastern Division detectives are urging anyone with information on a possible sex crime committed by Richard “Joseph” Banks to come forward immediately.

Tips may be submitted to the San Diego Police Department by calling 858-538-8026 or CrimeStoppers at 888-580-8477.

Richard “Joseph” Banks is currently in custody at the Vista Detention Facility without bail pending arraignment, which is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon. A court appearance for the former driving instructor is expected on January 16, at which time he is due to face a judge.

Justice for Survivors of California Sexual Abuse

Survivors of sexual abuse, sexual assault, and sexual misconduct may wish to seek justice against a perpetrator by filing a civil lawsuit for financial damages.

Civil claims can be a means of recovering financial compensation for:

  • Emotional trauma
  • Pain & suffering
  • Counseling and therapy expenses
  • Punitive damages
  • Lost wages or reduced future earning capacity
  • Diminished quality of life
  • Medical care costs

In California, a new law – the Justice for Survivors Act or Assembly Bill 452 (AB-452) – means there is no longer a statute of limitations for sex crimes committed against a minor. Childhood sexual abuse can be traumatic for survivors, and justice through a civil action can help ensure that financial restitution is made while also punishing the offender to the fullest extent of the law.

Additionally, the law states that in childhood sexual abuse cases where the victim is harmed as a result of “an effort to cover up past assaults,” survivors may be able to recover treble damages (triple the financial compensation awarded in a civil case).

For adult sexual assault survivors, the State of California recently opened a three-year window for plaintiffs to file their claims. Through the end of 2026, the Sexual Abuse Cover Up Accountability Act gives survivors of adult sexual assault a chance at justice for claims that would have otherwise been barred by the statute of limitations. Claims may be filed up until the December 31, 2026 deadline, but survivors are encouraged to act immediately to ensure the best chance at securing justice.

Dordulian Law Group’s Sexual Assault Lawyers: Experience, Results, Dedication to Survivors

To speak with a San Diego driving instructor sexual assault attorney from Dordulian Law Group about filing a claim against Richard “Joseph” Banks and the American Driving School, contact a dedicated member of our team today at 866-GO-SEE-SAM.

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