The FBI is trying to find more victims of a child molester believed to have preyed on scores of students at American schools overseas — drugging, abusing and photographing them over decades in a case that may be unprecedented.
William James Vahey, 64, committed suicide last month after an administrator at the American Nicaraguan School discovered a thumb drive with graphic pictures of at least 90 children taken on overnight field trips since 2008, the FBI said.
Before killing himself at a Minnesota motel, Vahey confessed to his boss that he had been abusing boys — drugged with sleeping pills — his entire adult life, agents said.
Since 1972, he had worked at schools in the United Kingdom, Venezuela, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Greece, Iran, Spain, and Lebanon attended by the children of American diplomats, military personnel, U.S. citizens working abroad and foreign nationals.
"I'm concerned that he may have preyed on many other students prior to 2008," Special Agent Patrick Fransen said in a statement. "I've never seen another case where an individual may have molested this many children over such a long period of time."
The victims are likely to be boys between the ages of 12 and 14 who went on field trips with Vahey. Many of them may not even know they were molested, but the feds are asking anyone who suspects they could be a victim to fill out a confidential questionnaire.
Vahey told the school administrator in Nicaragua that he had been sexually abused as a child. He was jailed for 90 days in 1969 for child molestation, but did not renew his sex offender registration before landing his first overseas teaching job.
The FBI provided the following dates and places of his employment:
- 2009 - 2013: Southbank International School, London, United Kingdom
- 2002 - 2009: Escuela Campo Alegre, Caracas, Venezuela
- 1992 - 2002: Jakarta International School, Jakarta, Indonesia
- 1980 - 1992: Saudi Aramco Schools, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia
- 1978 - 1980: American Community School, Athens, Greece
- 1976 - 1978: Passargad School, Ahwaz, Iran
- 1975 - 1976: American School of Madrid, Madrid, Spain
- 1973 - 1975: American Community School of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon
- 1972 - 1973: Tehran American School, Tehran, Iran
Investigators have not uncovered any evidence that Vahey traded or shared the photos of his victims.
"But his suicide left a lot more questions unanswered than answered," Fransen said.
— Tracy Connor