crime

FBI seeks victims of suspected sex predator who taught in Madrid

William Vahey committed suicide after officials in Nicaragua discovered images of young boys

Vahey in 2013 (left) and in 2004 in photos handed out by the FBI
Vahey in 2013 (left) and in 2004 in photos handed out by the FBIAP

The FBI has asked people in nine countries, including Spain, for their help identifying the victims of a purported sex predator who taught at American schools since the early 1970s.

William James Vahey, 64, committed suicide last month in Luverne, Minnesota after his supervisor at the American School in Managua, Nicaragua found at least 90 photographs on a pen drive that showed young boys between ages 12 and 14 who appeared either drugged or asleep.

“When confronted about the images by a school administrator, Vahey confessed that he was molested as a child and had preyed on boys his entire life, giving them sleeping pills prior to the molestation,” the FBI said on its website.

Vehey taught at the American School of Madrid from 1975 to 1976, according to the FBI.

Vehey taught at the American School of Madrid from 1975 to 1976, according to the FBI

At the American School in Managua, Vahey taught history and geography and had helped organize overnight school field trips. The pen drive had been stolen from his home in Nicaragua, along with a computer, by a disgruntled maid who had been fired, according to Nicaraguan press reports.

Gloria Doll, the director of the American School in Managua, told the Nicaraguan news portal SDPNoticias, that Vahey was very popular among students, adding that there had not been any complaint filed against him by his pupils. She confirmed that the maid had taken the pen drive to the school after she saw the information that it contained.

Last November, Vahey mysteriously disappeared. A phone call to the Managua school made by his wife, who was living in London, alerted officials that he was missing. When they went to his apartment, police found him unconscious on his bed. At first they thought he was dead, but they took him to the hospital when they detected vital signs. His blood had “high level of toxins” but it was not known what caused his condition, according to Confidencial magazine of Managua. Some teachers speculated that he tried to commit suicide after he discovered that his computer and pen drive had been stolen.

Soon afterwards, he traveled to the United States for medical examinations and told school officials when he returned in January that he had been bitten by a spider.

When confronted, Vahey confessed he had preyed on boys his entire life”

After the fired maid took the pen drive to the school, officials, fearing a scandal, decided not to go to the local police. Instead, they went to the US Embassy, which in turned called in the FBI to investigate.

On March 12, Vahey left Nicaragua for Miami. Nine days later he was found dead of an apparent suicide in a motel room in Luverne, outside Minneapolis.

In 1969, he had been jailed in California on child molestation charges.

FBI Special Agent Patrick Fransen, who is in charge of the case, said he was concerned that there may be many other students that Vahey molested before 2008. “I’ve never seen another case where an individual may have molested this many children over such a long period of time,” he said.

Besides schools in Spain and Nicaragua, Vahey also taught at American schools in Britain, Venezuela, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Greece, Iran and Lebanon.