A popular international school teacher has been posthumously identified by the FBI as one of the most prolific pedophiles in history.
According to the Guardian, on March 21, 2014, WIlliam James Vahey committed suicide by stabbing himself in the chest while sitting in the bathtub of a Minnesota Quality Inn. Vahey's death came as a shock to family and friends. The posh Southbank International School in London, where Vahey taught, announced that he had died as a result of a heart attack.
Newser.com reports that it would be several weeks after Vahey's death before an investigation into his crimes would be made public -- an investigation that sheds light on a predator who allegedly drugged and sexually abused adolescent boys in eight separate countries over a span of 42 years.
Vahey taught history at international schools around the globe, including prominent schools in Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, and the United Kingdom. The pupils at these schools are often the sons and daughters of billionaires, celebrities, and Middle Eastern royalty.
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Vahey was first outed as a pedophile while teaching at the American Nicaraguan School by the head of the school, Dr. Gloria Doll. Vahey's housekeeper allegedly stole a flash drive belonging to Vahey and discovered photographs of up to 90 unconscious adolescent boys -- some totally naked, others partially dressed.
The Guardian reports that the housekeeper turned the flash drive over to Doll, who then confronted Vahey with the evidence. According to Doll, Vahey immediately confessed to drugging and sexually abusing young boys during the course of his life, and that he had done so as a result of being sexually abused as a young boy himself.
Doll reportedly fired Vahey and reported him to U.S. authorities in Managua, Nicaragua. The FBI later interviewed Vahey but did not detain him, as they could not ascertain whether the photographs on the flash drive were taken by Vahey himself, or simply downloaded from the internet.
Instead, an ongoing investigation into Vahey was established by the FBI. But as they were in the process of building a case against him, Vahey took his own life.
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It is alleged that Vahey would organize field trips for his students to international locations, and would use his position as chaperone to take advantage of his victims. Vahey would drug unsuspecting boys at dinner and when they felt ill, would accompany them to their room where he allegedly molested them while they were unconscious.
The Guardian reports that Vahey would also hand out cookies laced with narcotics, and even go so far as to instigate "eating races," where he would pit two boys against each other to see who could finish their meal the fastest.
Throughout the course of his career, there were several red flags regarding Vahey's conduct. One boy told his parents that he suspected that he had been drugged and molested by Vahey. The parents allegedly alerted school officials, who claimed they needed more evidence or a corroborating witness before any action could be taken.
It is believed that many colleagues who may have had their suspicions about Vahey simply kept quiet, probably due to the powerful position his wife held within the international schooling community. Jean Vahey is the chief executive of the European Council of International Schools. It is thought that her influence got her husband hired at the Southbank International School in London, where Vahey is said to have molested at least 53 boys, ages 11 to 16.
Vahey himself was a convicted sex offender. He had been arrested in 1969, when he was 20 years old, for lewd and lascivious behavior after allegedly fondling young boys' penises while working as a teacher's aide in Long Beach, California. Vahey served a 90-day sentence and was set free, but placed on a sex offenders registry.
Unfortunately, all of the international schools where Vahey worked failed to perform the necessary background check which would have uncovered this incident in Vahey's past. The Guardian reports that authority figures at the schools were quick to hire Vahey due to his wife's influence, and therefore relaxed their hiring standards.
There is no evidence that Jean Vahey was aware of or complicit in any of her husband's alleged crimes.
The exact number of possible victims has yet to be established.