Paedophile teacher William Vahey: Details of crimes dating back to 2008 at Southbank International School emerge

Harrowing details of the abuse carried out on young boys by a former teacher at a London private school have been revealed in a document released by US authorities, as distraught parents waited to discover whether their children were involved.

American citizen William Vahey, 64, a convicted paedophile, was able to drug and abuse up to 60 boys aged between 12 and 14 at London’s Southbank International School (SIS). He killed himself in a Minnesota hotel room last month, two days after the FBI filed a warrant asking for permission to formally search a USB drive which he used to store images of his crimes.

Vahey worked as a history and geography teacher at SIS from 2009 until 2013. He was employed by nine other international schools from 1972 and US authorities fear he may have abused many other boys all over the world. The USB drive shows he had at least 90 victims since 2008 alone, and as he appears to have drugged them with sleeping pills, some may not even know what happened to them.

According to the FBI search warrant, Vahey’s crimes were only discovered last month while he was teaching at the American Nicaraguan School in Managua, which hired him after he left SIS. A maid employed to clean his apartment stole the USB stick and gave it to the school after discovering it contained explicit images of teenage boys, arranged under folders entitled “Panama Trip”, “Costa Rica Trip” and “Basketball Trip”.

When an employee at the school reviewed the contents of the drive and confronted Vahey about the images, he told them: “I was molested as a boy, that is why I do this. I have been doing this my whole life.” He added that he “never hurt any of the boys” and that “they did not know what had happened to them” as they were “completely asleep”, the document says.

Natalie Salmon, a former pupil of Vahey’s at Escuela Campo Alegre, an international school in Caracas, Venezuela, said she was in “complete shock” at the “disgusting” revelations. “I remember him as being just quite a nice, shy sort of guy – there was nothing sinister about him,” she told Sky News.

“My mum’s friends who have sons at the school have been calling her, saying things like ‘You’re really lucky to have girls because I’m so worried about my sons.’ A lot of friends of mine did go on his trips, but obviously nobody wants to talk about it. Some of them want to know… some of them don’t want to know at all. It’s the first time I’ve thought to myself, as a girl, I’m safer than being a boy.”

It is understood that SIS is focusing its investigation on school trips that Vahey led to destinations including Jordan, Venezuela and Nepal. Lists of participating pupils have been passed to the Metropolitan Police, with parents asked to come forward if their children “recall any disturbing incident”.

At a meeting on Monday, the school’s directors will attempt to explain to parents why Vahey’s 1969 conviction for child molestation in California was not picked up by its vetting procedures. The meeting is also due to be attended by police and other investigators. It is understood that another incident involving Vahey was reported to the school’s management, but the investigation was dropped after the parents of the child involved said they did not want to pursue it any further.

All lessons at the school were cancelled yesterday to allow parents to meet senior managers and discuss their concerns. Sir Chris Woodhead, the school’s chair of governors, said it was fully cooperating with the police investigation and that “the matter is in their hands”.

He added that parents of current pupils have been written to and urged to come forward with any concerns, while the families of past students are in the process of being contacted by police.

Some parents have previously said they felt “upset and betrayed” by the school. The mother of a child who was in Vahey’s class and had gone with him on a field trip told The Guardian: “Even if they find my son in the photos, I would rather not know and just forget about it.” Another added: “Every teenage kid who went on those trips is asking: ‘Was it me?’ Chances are that some of our kids have been victimised, but we don’t know anything.”

Yesterday, three employees at the American Nicaraguan School posted an anonymous open letter on the website Nicaragua Dispatch. They claim that the school mishandled the initial investigation into Vahey after discovering his USB stick, adding that after he was dismissed he was taken to the airport in a school van, where pupils “hugged him goodbye”, unaware of the reason he was leaving.

News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Extras
indybest
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Sport
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
football
News
Ronahi Serhat, a PKK fighter, in the Qandil Mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Poet’s corner: Philip Larkin at the venetian window of his home in 1958
booksOr caring, playful man who lived for others? A new book has the answer
Arts and Entertainment
Exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Metz - 23 May 2012
art
News
Matthew McConaughey and his son Levi at the game between the Boston Red Sox and the Houston Astros at Fenway Park on August 17, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.
advertisingOscar-winner’s Lincoln deal is latest in a lucrative ad production line
Life and Style
Pick of the bunch: Sudi Pigott puts together roasted tomatoes with peppers, aubergines and Labneh cheese for a tomato-inspired vegetarian main dish
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape