Tuesday, June 14, 2016

How did one of the worst paedophiles in history get away with his crimes?

On 21 March 2014, a 64-year-old teacher named William James Vahey checked into a cheap hotel in the tiny Minnesota town of Luverne. Vahey had spent the previous four decades teaching at international schools, from Saudi Arabia to Indonesia, but he had decided to spend his final moments near his elderly mother and his brother, Chris, who both lived in Luverne.

The reservation was a decoy. At 5.20pm, Vahey crossed the road and checked in at a second hotel, a Quality Inn. He paid in cash for his room, telling the receptionist he didn’t have a credit card because he had just filed for bankruptcy. Upstairs in room 201, he undressed to his boxer shorts, folded his clothes neatly on to the coffee table and lowered himself into the bath tub, tucking a pillow behind his back.

A thousand miles south, special agents at the FBI office in Houston were waiting for a search warrant that would allow them to open a 16 gigabyte flashdrive that had recently arrived from the US embassy in Nicaragua. For the previous seven months, Vahey had been teaching history at the American Nicaraguan School, one of 193 schools around the world supported by the US government to promote US-style education. On 11 March, his housekeeper had shown up at the school gates, and handed the flashdrive in. It was part of a haul of computer kit that she had allegedly stolen from Vahey’s villa a few months earlier.

It later transpired that the drive contained photographs of at least 90 unconscious adolescent boys, naked and partially dressed. The images of abuse, which dated from 2008 to 2013, were neatly arranged into digital folders with titles such as “Panama Trip”, “Costa Rica Trip” and “Basketball Trip”. Vahey had led these field excursions while teaching at two other private international schools in Caracas and London.

The head of the American Nicaraguan School, Dr Gloria Doll, immediately confronted Vahey with the cache of images. He confessed that he had spent a lifetime drugging his pupils and abusing them. “I was molested as a boy, that is why I do this,” he told Doll, according to an FBI affidavit. “I have been doing this my whole life.” The full scale of his crimes would only emerge in the coming months: four decades of abuse at 10 international schools in eight countries from Saudi Arabia to Indonesia, and from Venezuela to the UK. The FBI described him as one of the most prolific paedophiles it has ever seen. It seemed inexplicable that nothing had been done to stop him.  (more...)


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