DURHAM, N.C. — A former high school driving instructor is telling his side of the story after his arrest on assault charges on Wednesday.
Gregory Thomas is accused of inappropriately touching seven female students from March through June 2004 while he was teaching driver's education at Green Hope High School in Cary.
Cary police said the incidents involved two 14-year-old girls, three 15-year-old girls and two 16-year-old girls.
Thomas said he would never do what he is accused of doing and the only physical contact he made was an attempt to keep his students safe.
"When my mug shot was put on air, it was completely devastating," he said.
Thomas said the charges are absurd and that he was only trying to do his job -- something he said was completely misinterpreted by the female students accusing him of assault.
"If my hand is on the brake and yours is on the accelerator, what am I supposed to do? I'll do what I'm trained do," he said. "If I touch you, I did not mean to make bodily contact with you. But if you're about to run me into an 18-wheel truck, I'm going to do something about it."
Thomas was working for Jordan Driving School, a company contracted by Wake County Public Schools to teach driver's education. He was fired after the allegations surfaced.
Thomas said he was aware of one girl who said she did not appreciate his physical contact, but he claimed he apologized and that everything seemed OK after that.
"There is no time that any parent said 'You're touching my child.' Every time I picked those kids up, I brought them back safe," Thomas said.
Thomas said he was never alone with the girls in the car and that he was never made aware that six other girls had a problem with him until his arrest.
Thomas is due in court on Oct. 27. He faces seven counts of misdemeanor assault on a female.