(April 24, 2014) The FBI is asking for the public’s help as it tries to identify dozens of potential victims of a child predator who taught for four decades at American schools in South America, the Middle East and Europe attended by the children of U.S. military personnel and diplomats as well as foreign nationals.
Starting in 1972 William James Vahey, 64, taught at schools in Nicaragua, the United Kingdom, Venezuela, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Greece, Iran, Spain, and Lebanon.
He committed suicide last month after his employer found a thumb drive that belonged to him that contained pornographic images of at least 90 boys between the ages of 12 and 14 who likely were drugged, the FBI said.
When a school administrator confronted him about the images, Vahey, who was jailed in 1969 in California for child molestation, admitted that he was molested as a child and that he had preyed on boys throughout his life, giving them sleeping pills before molesting them, the FBI said.
Because the boys were drugged, the FBI says they may not realize they were molested.
At the time of his death, Vahey was teaching ninth grade world history and geography at the American Nicaragua School in Managua, the FBI said.
The photographs on the thumb drive included dates and locations that corresponded to overnight field trips with students that started in 2008, but the FBI says it has determined that he took students on similar field trips throughout his career.
“I’m concerned that he may have preyed on many other students prior to 2008,” said FBI Special Agent Patrick Fransen.
“I’ve never seen another case where an individual may have molested this many children over such a long period of time.”
“He had access to children because of his position of trust,” Fransen said.
“He created a system that gave him the opportunity and the means to molest children. The manner in which he committed these acts—while the boys were unconscious—may have inhibited them from knowing what happened, making it impossible for them to come forward at the time of the molestation.”
The FBI says it is in the process of identifying and notifying the victims.
The bureau is providing a confidential questionnaire for those who think they may have been among the victims.
“At this time, investigators have no knowledge that Vahey shared or traded any of the pornographic material he made,” Fransen said.
“But his suicide left a lot more questions unanswered than answered.”