This is an extremely unpleasant topic but in the light of recent developments, ISR believes it merits discussion among the international teaching community.
It has been recently discovered that a known pedophile had managed to elude authorities and work his away around the world teaching and molesting young boys aged 12-14. William Vahey, a 64-year old American and International Educator, worked in more than 7 international schools during his career. At his most recent school in Nicaragua, he was exposed as a pedophile after his house maid stole a pin drive from his home and discovered vile images. She delivered the pin drive to Vahey’s employer and when confronted, Vahey confessed that he had drugged and molested at least 90 boys while on overnight field trips. The dates accompanying the images on the pin drive corresponded to the dates of field trips with his students.
Police records show that in 1970, while studying for a teaching degree, Vahey was jailed for 90 days after pleading guilty to molesting boys at a swimming pool where he worked as swim instructor in California. He was ordered to register as a sex offender for life, but after graduating from college in 1972 neglected to sign the Register. The more than 7 schools that employed him during his teaching career all failed to find records showing time served for his crimes. One International school explained they had vetted Vahey back to 1985 when he taught in the United States, and assumed that that particular school would have vetted his even earlier history. They looked no further into his past. Vahey had slipped through the cracks.
William Vahey took his own life rather than face trial. His wife, Jean Vahey, was superintendent of Escuela Campo Alegre in Venezuela during the same period as Vahey taught there between 2002 and 2009. Jean Vahey was also Executive Director of European Council of International Schools. She has in no way been implicated. A statement from the ECIS Board of Trustees can be found at the following link – http://www.ecis.org/page.cfm?p=787
Unfortunately, we find that the case of William Vahey is not an isolated incident on the international education circuit. An ISR Review reported, “…it was learned that Kwangju Foreign School has also received a certain notoriety from the fact that the pedophile, Christopher Paul Neil, was a middle school teacher at the school just prior to his capture in Thailand, in October of 2007. He was quite popular with students and staff members, and it came as a complete surprise to everyone when his photo appeared on CNN during Interpol’s manhunt for him. Korean Immigration has now gotten stricter about checking the backgrounds of people wanting to teach in Korea, because of this incident…”.
A Google search will uncover more than we’d like to confront. Our question is this: How can we, as International educators, protect our children from such abuse? How can schools uncover and expose those who would do harm? Whether you’re an administrator, a school Board official, or a teacher in an international setting, what is the cure for this insidious treachery that causes harm to children of the world?