DODEA teacher arrested on child sex abuse charges while vacationing in US
STUTTGART, Germany— A Patch Elementary School teacher is facing charges stemming from child sexual abuse allegations spanning four years, according to Georgia court records.
Stefan Eberhard Zappey has been employed at Patch since 2001 as a teacher of German language courses, according to a newly released complaint in U.S. district court in Georgia.
Zappey, who was arrested this week while on vacation in the U.S., is being held at a federal detention center in Lovejoy, Ga., The Associated Press reported.
The case against Zappey was initiated in March after a former student of his told a Patch teacher about the abuse she said she experienced between 2007 and 2008.
Investigators with the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division interviewed the victim, who was in third grade when she says that Zappey called her to his desk during class and repeatedly fondled her, court records stated. She was 8 years old at the time.
Army investigators then interviewed numerous other students and teachers, who said they had witnessed Zappey being inappropriate with students.
Two faculty members witnessed “multiple occasions where Zappey hugged students at ‘crotch level,’” court records said.
Another faculty member said that he had known Zappey for eight years and that Zappey “would train students to become ‘really touchy feely,’” court records showed.
The court documents do not indicate whether any faculty members had raised concerns to school officials about Zappey’s alleged misconduct.
Department of Defense Education Activity-Europe did not immediately respond to a request for comment late Thursday.
“I have witnessed on several occasions what I deem as inappropriate touching of students by Mr. Zappey,” one faculty member is quoted in court documents as saying. “Examples of this touching is running his fingers through girls [sic] hair, sitting students on his lap, hugging students based on the placement of their faces as they are hugged, picking up students when they run up to him and letting them wrap their legs around him, and just being over touchy feely with students.”
Another former student told investigators that between 2008 and 2010, Zappey would call her up to his desk, “put her on his lap, put his hand inside her pants, and touch her genitals with his finger on multiple occasions.”
The student was 7 years old when the alleged abuse began. She said she began reporting to the school nurse in third grade that she had stomachaches to avoid Zappey’s class, court records stated.
Zappey was arrested after investigators tracked him down in Georgia, where his daughter resides, court records stated.
Zappey became a citizen of the United States through naturalization in 2000, according to court documents.