FBI: alleged US pedophile taught at American Nicaraguan School

Former teacher at American Nicaraguan School allegedly abused at least 90 victims


(posted April 22, 8:00 pm) — The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is seeking the public’s assistance to identify alleged victims of a suspected U.S. child predator who reportedly taught at Managua’s American Nicaraguan School from 2013 until March 2014.

William James Vahey, 64, was a suspect in an international sex crimes investigation who committed suicide on March 21, 2014, according to an FBI release. His alleged victims were American and international students enrolled in private schools abroad where Vahey taught, beginning in 1972.

“A USB thumb drive belonging to Vahey and provided to the FBI revealed pornographic images of minor males, approximately 12 to 14 years old, who appeared to be asleep or unconscious,” according to an FBI release. “The images were captioned with locations and dates that referenced places Vahey had previously traveled with students. When Vahey was confronted about the images, he reportedly admitted molesting boys throughout his entire life and said he gave the minors sleeping pills prior to the molestation.”

FBI agents said they have reviewed photographs dating back to 2008 that depict at least 90 alleged victims. The FBI says it is seeking to notify individuals of the ongoing investigation and encourage additional alleged victims to come forward.

“Vahey, who maintained residences in London and Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, traveled extensively and internationally during the past four decades, working as a middle school and high school teacher at several American international schools in at least nine different countries,” according to the FBI. “He taught history, geography, and social studies, and also coached junior varsity and basketball teams for boys. He regularly accompanied students on overnight field trips.”

Before moving to Nicaragua, Vahey reportedly lived between the years of 1973 – 2009 in London, Venezuela, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Greece, Iran, Spain, and Lebanon.

His identity and unwanted presence at the American Nicaraguan School was known by others for some time.

The FBI is asking for folks with information about the ongoing investigation regarding William James Vahey, including those who think they might been victimized by him, to please complete our confidential questionnaire or submit a confidential email to: HOvictimassistance@ic.fbi.gov. You can also contact your local FBI office or the nearest American Embassy or Consulate.

See ANS’ response here.


  • NicaMom

    His identity and unwanted presence at the American Nicaraguan School was known by others for some time?

  • Ben

    OK, Tim, I’m going to do this one more time. Previous post didn’t make it. Vahey was hardly the first pedophile to stalk the halls of ANS. I was very proud to teach there for six years. There were some real pro’s working there. There were also some real perverts in residence. In the 90’s we had a priest who held a high administrative position there. He was sexually abusing male students. Undercover, we contacted the Boston archdiocese to ask for an official investigation of this man (All he would admit to was that he was not allowed to give Mass anymore.)
    The church did a whitewash, and any of us who questioned his authority were in grave danger of losing our jobs and our reputations. Several of us left the school for this reason. He reportedly died several years ago of AIDS. I can only hope that he didn’t take any of our alumni with him. Don’t bother looking. There are no records of his perversity.
    Let’s stop the apparent influx of pedophiles into a country that loves it’s children.

    • Joe

      Ben Spence! You helped me start my teaching career at ANS. Gary Fernandez was the man’s name you’re referring to and the Director of ANS at the time, Mary Ellen Normandin protected him and the ANS Board protected her. Let’s see if this Board holds the current Director, Gloria Doll, accountable. She brought this man to ANS.

      • Ben

        I am unaware of the circumstances of Vahey’s hiring, but you seem to have accurate knowledge of the previous case. Nice photo. Santiago?

      • Ben

        Reply to Joe: Congratulations on your success as a teacher. It is a noble profession. Also glad to see you’re not afraid to rock the boat.

    • spanishgrammar
      • Ben

        The one and only. Notice there were only 2 entries in the guest book & it, like him, is now expired.

  • An Average Teenager

    Being a student can result in some awkward situations. Especially when you run into your teacher at the supermarket on a Sunday. We have all been there. You recognize the familiar face only this time they are with their families and are wearing flip-flops. You forget that teachers have a life outside of school and their students. Teachers are people. You forget that some people are good, some are bad, some are in between, and some are criminals.

    I remember the first time that Mr. Vahey died. Even at that point when everything was supposedly innocent, it felt strange that something like death could creep upon the safe walls of a school. I never expected that teachers could die. A teacher seemed like an invincible force in the eyes of a teenager. They couldn’t die, or sleep, or do anything but grade papers and make rubrics. Some teachers are mean and some are nice, that’s all. But when I heard the news of a teacher dying, it almost seemed impossible. I never had his class, or for that matter, I never said two words to him. But I passed by him everyday. And not a single time did I ever question or doubt him. Everyone who had his class loved him.

    When I walked into school that morning all I saw were students freaking out and teachers running around in disbelief. It was a regular day. I was supposed to have a test and turn in a project, nothing unusual. But seeing everyone in a complete state of hysteria changed that. We were all told by the school councilor to crowd into a tiny room because there was some news that needed to be shared. Of course, by this point rumors were already spreading. To my knowledge, I heard the announcement was going to be about a fight between two students from last week, or PSAT scores. But people seemed way too upset to cry over test scores. So then I thought of a tragic world event. As the tenth grade crowded into a small room, the teachers had no trouble in getting everyone to be quiet (as they usually did). Everything fell silent in a matter of seconds. I have never heard the students in that room being so quiet, so the circumstance was haunting. The teachers announced that they had some news, and then they eyed every person in that room. You could hear a pin drop.

    “Mr. Vahey was found dead in his home this morning”

    No one said anything. Complete silence consumed the room until one girl asked, “What happened to him?”

    The councilor responded with the answer that we would hear an awful lot for the next few months; “I don’t know”.

    They told us that we didn’t have to go to classes that day since the schools favorite teacher had passed away. The day was a blur. I even shed some tears. It was an awful feeling to know that something like death could never be stopped, even in a safe haven like school.

    However, there was only one other thing that I found rather unexpected about that day.

    I was sitting in my last period drama class, when I heard my drama teacher scream and type nervously at her keyboard. I saw her eyes widen in disbelief. Everyone asked her what happened, and she didn’t answer until about the twelfth person asked her.

    “Mr. Vahey isn’t dead! He is alive!”

    This was a miracle to us. How was this possible? It can’t be true? Confusion took over the room. But a group of the girls started to cry out of joy. A smile slowly crept upon those in the room. Class was dismissed. What just happened?

    The next day the school was filled with posters and banners that students would sign and write messages on. The principal said that Vahey would be back after winter break to continue teaching. And so it was. After winter break, he was back in school teaching ancient world history as if nothing ever happened. I was back to passing by him in the halls and not saying a word. I was still shocked about what happened, especially because everyone was so vague about how he randomly started to show vital signs. Everyone said it was a miracle.

    A few weeks later the school was in an uproar again. The funny thing is that it was because of the same teacher. Mr. Vahey. The American Nicaraguan school is a very tight knit community were news travels fast. There were rumors going around that Mr. Vahey was a pedophile. No one gave the rumor much thought until we walked into our chemistry class last period. Our teacher informed us that Mr. Vahey was fired and that he would no longer be teaching at our school.

    Were there red flags? There had to be signs. My friend told me that he held a “who has the best jeans” contest. Another friend told me that his constant sexual jokes were common. Aren’t these signs? But since he was supposed to be a trusted teacher, no one gave it much thought.

    Wait. Mr. Vahey? Why such respect for a pedophile?

    When you walk into your class on the first day of school, you are expected to respect and trust your teacher. You are expected to refer to them as Mrs. or Mr. out of respect, so why Mr. Vahey?

    Most importantly why the assumed trust between students and teachers?

    Remember the saying stranger danger in elementary school? If we ever encountered “stranger danger” we were supposed to tell a teacher, or a parent. Why is a teacher on the same level as a parent? Isn’t a teacher considered to be a stranger.

    After spring break, I found myself waiting at the Houston airport at gate 83. I walked into a newsstand and grabbed my king sized pack of twizlers and Rolling Stone magazine. I was so excited because there was an article about Ed Sheeran in it. I walked over to the cashier to pay for my essentials that I can’t seem to find in Nicaragua. But as I looked up at the television that adorned the wall I saw that face that I used to pass by every day at school. Vahey was headlining the Houston news. Words like “suicide” and “sex offender” lit up the screen. Apparently it was true. He was dead for good this time; the second and only time.

    • Ben

      Dear Average, a dramatic narrative to be sure. What would be helpful is a more expository rendering of events. I am confused about exactly when Mr. Vahey “died” the first time. Was it from the mythical spider bite? Or was that bit of creative writing reserved for his interment in Hilton Head? You seem to infer that your drama teacher discovered his reincarnation on the SAME day as the announcement of his death. Yes? You also indicate that Mr. Bill was out for a while, returning sometime after winter break. Is there any way to firm up how long he was indisposed? I still don’t know exactly how long he actually worked at ANS…6 months? 8 months? Only between deaths?
      The riddle within the conundrum is: What is the verity of the events surrounding the hastily arranged “firing” of the unnamed principal? Unidentified sources have attempted to link his/her dismissal with the Vahey puzzle. Is there a connection? This person reportedly also left the country in a hurry.
      Average, this mystery anthology needs an editor. Good luck with that.

      • An Average Teenager

        Thank you for your response. I am a student at ANS and this is what I lived through as an observer. This is what was told to us as students and from what really happened, I wrote this piece. I understand your confusion. We were also confused when we heard that he “died” and came back to life.

        • Ben

          You’re very welcome. Keep writing. You may uncover the truth after all.

      • The Truth

        I know the Vahey came the first day of school which is in August. I forgot when he left. But he took this small “vacation” to go to a hospital in Georgia I think. It was because of this mythical spider bite that he had to go. As I know from the drama teacher which is someone close to me. She said that not only did the principal of high school let this teacher go on a field trip with 25 kids and no parents and only this guy. Vahey said this “No parents are allowed”. IS THAT NOT SUSPICIOUS TO ANYONE?