A prominent Victoria driving instructor has agreed not to conduct further lessons following complaints of sexual harassment and inappropriate conduct from female students, ICBC said Thursday.
Steve Wallace will not conduct driver training, will not attend places where students are present and will not attend any ICBC premises pending the outcome of the harassment allegations, the organization said in a statement.
ICBC said it has also contacted the Victoria Police Department regarding the allegations.
“This is a very serious matter and we strongly advise anyone with concerns to take those to local law enforcement as soon as possible,” it said.
ICBC’s update comes after Aiko Oye, 18, told her story about an unsettling lesson she had with Wallace — a long-time instructor and owner of Wallace Driving School — a week ago.
She said within five minutes of meeting him, he commented on her “movie star eyes.” From there, Oye said Wallace told her “I love you” about 15 times.
Oye also said Wallace, 72, placed his hand on hers while she was driving when she believed it wasn’t necessary.
The experience left Oye shaken and when she shared her experience with her friends, she said she realized she wasn’t alone. It led her to create an Instagam account for others to come forward and share similar accounts of their experiences with Wallace.
The page received dozens of direct messages within days, many from women sharing allegations ranging from unprofessional behaviour to inappropriate touching.
A weekly column written by Wallace for the Times Colonist has been cancelled since the allegations surfaced.
When contacted by CHEK News, he apologized in a statement.
“I am truly sorry I did anything that caused anyone to feel uncomfortable. Learning to drive is a process where confidence is gained in a short period of time. I am in a position of trust, and I am aghast to learn my actions and words are seen as a breach of that trust,” he said. “I focus on positive reinforcement so new drivers learn necessary, life-saving skills. These interactions include vehicle control interventions for safety. Moving forward I will be clear emergency vehicle control may require physical contact.”
Wallace added he will be reflecting on the comments and he takes the concerns seriously.
“I take the social media comments seriously and they cause me to reflect on the unintended consequences of my recent driving instruction. I thank the writers [for] their concerns. I acknowledge and respect their feelings. It is humbling feedback and I vow to do better.”
ICBC has urged anyone with a concern about Wallace or other driver training instructors or schools to file an official complaint online.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.