Schoolgirls on a coach and their shocked teacher saw a man exposing himself in his car as he drove along the M6 motorway near Rugby.
But David Acres claims he was applying ointment to his genitals at the time, not performing a sex act on himself, a judge has heard.
Acres, 46, of Turnbrook Close, Irthlingborough, in Northamptonshire, had denied indecently exposing his genitals intending someone to see them and be caused alarm or distress.
But on the day of his trial at Warwick Crown Court earlier this year he pleaded guilty to an alternative charge of outraging public decency by his actions on the M6 in March 2011.
The court heard that Acres had been seen by schoolgirls on a coach and by their teacher as he drove along the motorway near Rugby with his hand on his genitals.
Following an adjournment for a pre-sentence report to be prepared on him, prosecutor Denis Desmond explained: “The Crown were not minded to pursue the allegation that he did it intending the children on the coach to see what he was doing.”
But Mr Desmond said the prosecution do not accept that Acres was not performing a sex act at the time, pointing out that the teacher described him doing so ‘furiously.’
Judge Alan Parker, who said he did not accept Acres’ ‘basis of plea,’ observed: “His case is that he was applying ointment while driving in his car on the M6 motorway.”
Mr Desmond pointed out that there was a statement from Acres’ wife saying he had had a problem with a sore genital area for some time – but he had not been to a doctor about it.
Robert Hodgkinson, defending, asked: “Does it really matter now, given the fact that he has pleaded guilty to count two?”
But Judge Parker responded: “Of course it matters, because the risk assessment that follows needs to be based on either a finding that he was merely applying ointment to himself and gave no thought to the young girls on the coach seeing him, or that he was performing a sexual act; because if he was, it makes it more likely he will do the same in the future.”
He added that in either case ‘it would not make a difference between prison forthwith and a suspended sentence,’ and adjourned the case briefly for Mr Hodgkinson to speak to Acres again.
But when the case was called back into court Mr Hodgkinson said Acres maintained he was applying ointment.
So Judge Parker adjourned the case for a ‘trial of issue’ at which the teacher, but not the girls, will be called to give evidence, and Acres was granted bail.