Ex-instructor pleads guilty to sex offense

From Staff ReportsFebruary 17, 2006 

A former Green Hope High driving school instructor, arrested in connection with inappropriately touching female students, pleaded guilty to 12 charges Thursday in a Wake County courtroom.

As part of a plea agreement, Gregory Thomas, of Durham, 53, pleaded guilty to 11 counts of misdemeanor assault on a female and one felony count of taking indecent liberties with a child.

Thomas' teaching methods, described by his lawyer as "a tad bit unorthodox," included touching, or rubbing, female students' thighs during driving lessons, said Assistant District Attorney Deborah Shandles. Thomas also placed his hand in at least one girl's crotch while she was driving and he was in the passenger seat teaching.

Although Shandles asked that Thomas receive five months of jail time, Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson placed Thomas on probation, suspending his sentence of 19 to 23 months in prison for the felony charge and 495 days in jail for the 11 misdemeanor charges.

Thomas must register with the state as a sex offender.

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