Life sentence ordered for ex-DODEA teacher in Germany who sexually abused young students
Stars and Stripes May 5, 2023
STUTTGART, Germany — A former elementary school teacher at the U.S. Army garrison in Stuttgart will serve a life sentence for sexually abusing his students between 2006 and 2010, the Justice Department said this week.
Stefan Zappey, 57, who had taught first through third grades at Patch Elementary, was sentenced Tuesday by a federal court in Georgia to life in prison.
In January, he was convicted on four counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child and four counts of abusive sexual contact.. The victims were between 6 and 8 years old, according to authorities.
Zappey was employed by the Department of Defense Education Activity in Europe between 2001 and 2021, and he was awarded the title of DODEA teacher of the year in the Bavaria district in 2007.
“Zappey abused a position of trust,” Ryan Buchanan, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, said in a statement Tuesday. “His crimes were horrific, and the community is safer now that he no longer has access to children.”
The case was opened when a former student told Army criminal investigators in 2020 that Zappey had touched her under her clothing a decade earlier.
The investigation was broadened and revealed that Zappey had placed his hand inside students’ underwear and directly touched them on multiple occasions.
Other students and faculty members reported that Zappey frequently hugged students, had them sit on his lap and touched their backs and stomachs under their clothes, according to law enforcement.
Zappey was arrested in August 2021 while on vacation in the United States. DODEA said at the time that he had been removed from the classroom in March 2020 at the start of the Army’s investigation.
“Zappey’s offenses are especially egregious because he was entrusted with teaching the children of our brave service members overseas” assistant attorney general Kenneth Polite Jr. said in the statement.