ST. JOSEPH — A former area driving instructor and school bus driver was arrested Nov. 14 on charges of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl, according to Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey.
Bailey said Peter Fleck, 56, of Bridgman is accused of sexually assaulting the victim in several locations throughout Berrien County.
Fleck had until recently been employed as a driving instructor at Mr. G’s Driving School in Three Oaks.
Bailey said the investigation is continuing to see if there are more alleged victims. No more details will be given out concerning this ongoing investigation, he said.
Berrien County Prosecutor Michael Sepic said in an email that Fleck is charged with five counts of criminal sexual conduct, third degree. Each charge is a felony and carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.
Fleck was arraigned and posted the $25,000 bond on Nov. 14, according to Sepic. A pre-exam conference is set for Dec. 26, with a preliminary hearing set for Dec. 31. Both are scheduled for 8:30 a.m. at the Berrien County Courthouse in St. Joseph. “While we believe there could be other victims because of the opportunity, we have no particular information leading us to believe there are other victims,” Sepic said.
Steve Graziano from Mr. G’s Driving School said in a statement that Fleck was fired Nov. 11, after Graziano learned of the accusations.
“Here at Mr. G’s Driving School we take safety seriously and always focus on ensuring our students’ safety. Upon hearing serious accusations that threaten our student’s safety, Mr. G’s Driving School fired Mr. Fleck immediately. Parents and students can rest at ease that Mr. G’s will always use immediate action to ensure student safety,” Graziano said.
Mr. G’s Driving School conducts classes at River Valley High School, Lakeshore Middle School, Bridgman Elementary and Coloma Public Schools.
Lakeshore Superintendent Phil Freeman said in a news release that Fleck was a part-time bus driver for Lakeshore Public Schools for two years and was fired immediately after the allegations came to light.
“The alleged behavior leading up to the investigation, we have been informed, did not include any interaction with a Lakeshore Public Schools student nor did the alleged acts take place within our community,” Freeman stated.
Freeman said Fleck this year had been assigned to a morning van route.
“Prior to his hiring, the District conducted a thorough background check, as it does with all employees, and checked several references,” Freeman said. “The background check indicated that Mr. Fleck had no record. We are appalled by the alleged behaviors leading to the arrest of Mr. Fleck. The safety of all area students is of the utmost importance.”
On Nov. 13, Fleck posted this on his Facebook page: “This goes out to all my friends and former players and students I had in driver’s education. There is a post on Facebook accusing me of inappropriate action with a former student. I have never made any such advances towards any of my former students. I try to help all of my former students and former players as much as possible. I have a 23 year old daughter and I would be upset to if it happen to her. I would ask for prayers at this time and if you could please put some positive impact I had on your life I would greatly appreciate it. Love you all, Sincerely Peter fleck.”