A Montclair driving instructor who was a registered sex offender for prior convictions involving underage students has been sentenced to three years in state prison for sexually assaulting a 17-year-old student, prosecutors announced Thursday.
Tom Mantung Lam, 56, admitted to molesting the teenage girl during a driving lesson on March 7 before being sentenced to prison time on Wednesday, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
Lam — who also goes by Lam Man Tung, Jie Yao Li and Nam Tung Lam — had already been convicted in two similar cases years earlier involving two underage victims and was ordered to register as a sex offender in 2015.
He received 45 days in jail and three years of summary probation for a misdemeanor charge of sexual battery and three years of summary probation with 10 days of community service for child molestation, according to DA’s office spokesman Ricardo Santiago.
Lam had not been working for a driving school but as an independent contractor at the time of the assault in March, Santiago said.
“He worked independently and got clients through word of mouth,” Santiago said.
A parent of the victim paid Lam in June 2018 for six driving lessons — the first four of which “were given without incident” before he sexually assaulted the girl during the last two lessons in the Rowland Heights area, sheriff’s officials said at the time of his arrest.
Prosecutors have alleged Lam warned the girl not to go to the police.
He was released on $140,000 bail two days after being arrested on March 15, officials have said.
On July 8, he pleaded no contest to one felony count each of child molesting with a prior conviction, sexual penetration of a person under 18 and dissuading a witness from reporting a crime.
Licensed driving instructors in the state of California are required to complete an application that includes paying $30 and $1 fees, doing a 60-hour course, successfully completing a written exam and requesting a Live Scan fingerprinting — a criminal background check by the Department of Justice.
But authorities have not said whether Lam was indeed licensed at the time of the crimes.