New York Daily News
A famously “touchy” teacher who works with children of U.S. military personnel at an Army base in Germany is accused of sexually abusing young students in his classroom more than a decade ago, according to a newly unsealed federal indictment.
Stefan Eberhard Zappey, a U.S. citizen and civilian employee of the Department of Defense, was indicted by a grand jury Tuesday following a yearlong investigation into a former student’s allegation that he touched her inappropriately multiple times during class between 2007 and 2008.
The accuser, who was about 8 years old at the time, told authorities that Zappey would call her to his desk and put his hand inside the back of her pants and inside her shirt, prosecutors said in court filings made public this week. The now-young woman said she didn’t report the abuse when it happened because she “didn’t know it was wrong,” according to the documents.
Following the March 2020 allegations, detectives with the U.S. Army Garrison- Stuttgart base in Germany began seeking interviews with students and staff at the elementary school. The probe resulted in horrific accounts of additional sex abuse and inappropriate behavior around children.
Another former student said Zappey was her teacher between 2008 and 2010 and first touched her genitals when she was only 7 years old. She told investigators that the suspect would call her up to his desk, put her on his lap and put his hand inside her pants, a disturbing experience she endured on “multiple occasions,” prosecutors said.
At least one other former student accused Zappey of touching her genitals in his classroom, court filings show. The accused perv would also routinely touch children on their stomachs and backs and sometimes rub their bellies with his hands, according to prosecutors.
One faculty member who has worked with Zappey for eight years said his colleague would train students to become “really touchy feely,” authorities said. Another co-worker said she witnessed the suspect being inappropriate on multiple occasions.
“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,” the faculty member reportedly said.
Zappey was arrested while visiting his daughter in Georgia on July 23. A federal grand jury in the state returned an indictment charging him with two counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child committed by a person employed by the armed forces outside of the U.S.
He is being held at a detention facility in Lovejoy, Ga., and is scheduled to appear in court Aug. 13.
A public defender representing the suspect did not immediately return a request for comment Thursday.
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