UK parents to meet police over paedophile teacher Vahey

William Vahey Image copyright FBI
Image caption William Vahey taught at schools all over the world

Parents at a private school in London where a convicted paedophile is said to have abused children are expected to meet police on Monday.

William Vahey, 64, taught students at Southbank International School from 2009 to last year. He was found dead last month.

It has since emerged the US citizen preyed on up to 90 boys.

The abuse is thought to have taken place at schools he taught at all over the world.

The FBI said his victims were drugged and unconscious and some may not know they were abused.

Images of students from the school were found on his computer, the school's executive principal has said.

Overnight trips

Vahey killed himself two days after investigators filed a warrant to search a computer drive belonging to him which contained pornographic images of boys aged from 10 to 14.

The school's chair of governors, former Chief Inspector of Schools Sir Chris Woodhead, said there would be a meeting for parents on Monday. He would not say where and when it would take place.

"It is being held so parents can express their concerns and have their say," he said.

"We expect that police will attend, and staff from Westminster child protection, and the NSPCC.

"The main anxiety of parents is predictable, they want information as soon as possible about whether there were images of their children discovered on Vahey's computer."

Sir Chris has already described the revelations as the "worst thing that I've ever been involved in in 40 years of education".

The investigation is being led by the FBI, which said the photos were catalogued with dates and locations that corresponded with overnight trips that Vahey had taken with students since 2008.

He was convicted of a child sex offence in California in 1969 but appears to have failed to have been included in the sex offenders' register, which allowed him to slip through the net and go on to work in several schools.

In a letter to parents on Friday, Graham Lacey, executive principal at Southbank, urged any pupils who had experienced anything disturbing to come forward.

He wrote: "As a staff we feel upset, angry and betrayed. We can only imagine what you as parents must feel."

The letter added details of the checks that were made when Vahey joined the school, including when he was subject to a Criminal Record Bureau (CRB) check, which is standard procedure and revealed nothing untoward.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Vahey taught at the Southbank International School in central London from 2009 to last year

A second check, three years later, produced similarly positive results and Mr Lacey added that three references the school obtained were "outstanding" and "specifically stated that there were no safeguarding issues".

Mr Lacey said Vahey was an "extremely popular teacher" and several parents had even expressed their sadness about his leaving the school.

He said there had been one incident that occurred, which was investigated by school management at the time, but both the parents and the child stated they did not want to pursue the matter any further.

Vahey taught in various international schools, which has led the FBI to believe his victims are from all over the world.

He was confronted about the images by a colleague at the American Nicaraguan School in Managua, Nicaragua, where he had most recently been teaching, and he confessed that he was molested as a child and had preyed on boys all his life, plying them with sleeping pills before abusing them.

Vahey, who had a home in London as well as in South Carolina, was found dead in Luverne, Minnesota, on 21 March.

Scotland Yard has said it is helping the FBI with its inquiries.

A spokesman has said: "Officers from the sexual offences, exploitation and child abuse investigation team are assessing and evaluating intelligence passed to the MPS (Metropolitan Police Service) by US authorities, and actively seeking any evidence whilst working with partner agencies to ensure that potential victims are supported."

The FBI said Vahey worked in the following schools:

  • American Nicaraguan School, Managua, Nicaragua: 2013 until March 2014
  • Southbank International School, London, United Kingdom: 2009-2013
  • Escuela Campo Alegre, Caracas, Venezuela: 2002-2009
  • Jakarta International School, Jakarta, Indonesia: 1992-2002
  • Saudi Aramco Schools, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia: 1980-1992
  • American Community School, Athens, Greece: 1978-1980
  • Passargad School, Ahwaz, Iran: 1976-1978
  • American School of Madrid, Madrid, Spain: 1975-1976
  • American Community School of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon: 1973-1975
  • Tehran American School, Tehran, Iran: 1972-1973.

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