The LAPD fears that the owner of Valleywide Driving School in Granada hills, a 44-year-old Filipino man named Joselito Valencia Danan (but known locally as “Joey”), may have a habit of coming onto his driver-ed students.
A 17-year-old boy claims he was sexually molested by Danan during a driving lesson on August 16 — and detectives “fear there may be more victims.”
Danan was charged yesterday with…
… “misdemeanor sexual battery of a juvenile,” according to City News Service. Prosecutors with the L.A. City Attorney's Office reportedly found that the victim's story rang true, and are out to prove that Danan “inappropriately touched” his teen student.
Unsurprisingly, Valleywide Driving School's phone line is going straight to voicemail this morning.
Its website advertises driving courses from $270 to $300 throughout the Valley, depending on how far away the student lives from its Granada Hills headquarters. Customer testimonials get very intimate and chummy, including “Joey I miss you bro we need to chill someday” and “Joeeeey hey I got on before 11:30! I had a very memorable time at Valleywide, learning about Filipino lifestyle and listening to Depeche Mode and Nine Inch Nails while driving with you hahaha. and yes samantha and me have been dating for 2 1/2 years now.”
Not exactly incriminating, but Danan seems to have been crossing the professional line. And the driving school's reviews on Yelp paint this just-one-of-the-kids approach in a somewhat less favorable light:
“The owner Joey Danan is a filipino man who always plays Skrillex in the car very loudly and sings along to it, he uses his phone to text and make calls during the lessons, and curses and yells at you for making simple mistakes that an inexperienced driver is expected to make. On top of all this he is just a very disrespectful, sarcastic human being who has no experience in dealing with teenage drivers.”
“Unprofessional, unethical and dangerous. They came to pick up my son 15 minutes late, in a car that was filthy, with an instructor who was barely older than he was. They pick up students one after the other so my kid got driven home by a 16 year old on her first lesson. I would not only not recommend them, but I think they should be shut down for endangering children.”
“Stay away.. all the instructors are heavy smokers and smoke right outside the cars before they get in. YUCK! Also, I saw some cash change hands from the high schoolers to the instructors. Unless the kids are paying for their lessons in cash (I doubt it) something else is going on, know what I mean???”
We've contacted Detective Maria Dingman in the LAPD's Devonshire division for more on what police believe went down in that student-driver vehicle on August 16, and why they suspect it may have not been the first time.