School head who fired pedophile teacher resigns

LUIS MANUEL GALEANO
Associated Press

MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) — An international school that hired a teacher believed to be one of the most prolific pedophiles in memory said Tuesday that it had accepted the resignation of its director, who has been criticized for not turning the suspect in to police immediately.

The American Nicaraguan School said in an email to parents and staff Tuesday that Gloria Doll had resigned, effective next month. It did not specify a reason.

In March a maid working for the school brought Doll a memory drive containing lewd images of drugged male students taken by William Vahey during previous jobs in London and Venezuela. Doll fired Vahey, who flew back to the U.S. and killed himself.

The school notified U.S. law-enforcement authorities through the Embassy in Managua but Doll was criticized by parents and commentators in Nicaragua for not telling local police before he left the country.

Dozens of parents from the school of some 960 students signed a letter last week demanding her resignation. The board of directors rejected the call, “however, Dr. Doll had decided, yes, to carry on with her resignation,” school spokesman Gerardo Peralta said.

Doll did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

She told The Associated Press this month that the Vahey case, “is a wake-up call that it is time for action to be better prepared for this. Schools need to have a better way to be on the lookout for this.”

Vahey, one of the most beloved teachers in the small world of international schools that serve the children of diplomats, well-off American expatriates and local elites, was known for leading students on class trips to exotic places and treating them to cookies and milk at bedtime.

The FBI said last month at least 90 boys were in the images on the memory drive. The bureau said last week that it has now “been contacted by several hundred individuals from around the globe wishing either to reach out as potential victims or provide information in the ongoing investigation.”

Vahey, a 64-year-old native of West Point, New York, attempted suicide in Nicaragua after his maid stole the drive. He survived, but killed himself on a second try, stabbing himself to death in Minnesota on March 21 and leaving hundreds of former students wondering if they were abused.

There were decades of missed opportunities to expose Vahey. An early California sex-abuse conviction didn’t prevent him taking a series of jobs working with children. Colleagues and supervisors failed to question why he was so often with boys overnight. And at least twice, boys fell mysteriously ill while under his care and there was no investigation into Vahey’s role.

Schools where Vahey taught are reviewing their background check policies and security procedures. Jane Larsson, executive director of the Council of International Schools, said a group of six international education associations was examining how schools could close loopholes allowing pedophiles to move from country to country without being detected by background checks or other reports.

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Weissenstein contributed from Havana.

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Michael Weissenstein on Twitter: https://twitter.com/mweissenstein

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