WILLIAM VAHEY, a paedophile and international school teacher who committed suicide after pictures of his victims were passed to the FBI, spent most of his forty-year career working for American international schools affiliated to the US State Department, Gazette research reveals. Despite having a conviction in California for child abuse in 1969, Vahey evaded discovery because US overseas schools are barred by law from accessing FBI criminal records.
Vahey, a US citizen who admitted to abusing boys throughout his career, first began teaching at Tehran International School, which was State Department-assisted, in 1973 and worked for other assisted schools in Lebanon, Spain, Greece, Indonesia and Venezuela before evidence of his abuse was uncovered by authorities at the American Nicaraguan School, also affiliated to the State Department.
The school in Managua, which has come under fire from teachers for letting Vahey return to the US after images of abused boys were discovered on a computer memory stick, stated that no children at the school were featured among the photos. According to uncomfirmed local press reports, another affiliated American international school, Campo Allegre in Venezuela, has been informed that the photographic records suggest that it is likely abuse took place during Vahey’s time there.
The assisted American international schools, which are all independently owned and run, are not the only ones to be caught up in the Vahey scandal. London’s Metropolitan Police confirmed that up to sixty boys at Southbank International School, where the dead man taught from 2009 to 2013, were abused based on the photographic record. A woman claiming to have been taught by Vahey at the Aramco School in Saudi Arabia is reported in the press as saying several of her classmates were abused by him and three subsequently committed suicide. However, Vahey’s method of feeding victims food laced with sleeping pills before abusing them means that many of his victims do not know of their abuse, according to the FBI.
Vahey is not the only paedophile targeting international schools to have been discovered this year. The Jakarta International School, where Vahey worked from 1992 to 2002, confirmed that the parents of a six-year-old pupil, who was allegedly raped by a cleaner, have filed a court case for $12 million.
The American School in Japan, another State Department-affiliated institution, admitted in March that teacher Jack Moyer sexually assaulted girl pupils while he was employed in the school between 1963 and 2000. Richard William Frewin, a teacher at Universal English School in Phnomh Pen, was jailed for two years for abuse (see Gazette May 2014).
A major attraction of international education for child abusers may be the difficulty of running criminal record checks across borders. In the case of the US, the FBI runs the federal Criminal History Record Information service but is not authorised to ‘to disseminate criminal history record information to international schools for purposes such as background checks of school teachers’, a spokesperson told the Gazette. These records are available to many US organisations such as the Scouts, but not to student exchange programmes involving US host families.