A former school teacher was sentenced today to life in prison for sexually abusing elementary school students on a U.S. military installation in Germany.

According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Stefan Zappey sexually abused four of his former elementary school students between 2006 and 2010. At the time, Zappey was a teacher for first through third-grade students at an elementary school in Germany. The school is part of the Department of Defense Education Activity, which serves dependents of U.S. military service members stationed overseas.

“The successful prosecution of Stefan Zappey demonstrates the Justice Department’s commitment to prosecuting U.S. citizens who prey on young and vulnerable children regardless of where and when the crimes occurred,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “Zappey’s offenses are especially egregious because he was entrusted with teaching the children of our brave service members overseas. The courage of the victims and the perseverance of investigators and prosecutors ensured that Zappey’s offenses were exposed and will prevent him from abusing even more children.”

“Zappey abused a position of trust as an elementary school teacher and sexually abused multiple students,” said U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan for the Northern District of Georgia. “His crimes were horrific, and the community is safer now that he no longer has access to children.”

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In 2020, one of Zappey’s former students notified Army criminal investigators that Zappey touched her under her clothing when she was a student at the school in 2009 and 2010. Further investigation revealed that Zappey sexually abused four of his former students by placing his hand inside their underwear and directly touching them on multiple occasions. The victims were between six and eight years old at the time of the sexual abuse. 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.

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On Jan. 18, a jury convicted Zappey of four counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child and four counts of abusive sexual contact.

“Cases like these demonstrate the FBI’s dedication to protecting children from those who seek to exploit their innocence,” said Assistant Director Luis Quesada of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division. “The FBI and our partners remain committed to pursuing justice for our most innocent victims and those who are unable to defend themselves.”

“Victimizing and preying on Department of Defense dependents is unacceptable,” said Special Agent in Charge Ryan Hall of the Department of the Army Criminal Investigation Division’s (Army CID) Europe Field Office. “Army CID will continue to work closely with our law enforcement partners to investigate these crimes and bring the perpetrators to justice.”

The FBI and Army CID investigated the case.