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Thursday, January 19, 2023

Former Elementary School Teacher Convicted of Sexually Abusing Children

A federal jury convicted a former elementary school teacher yesterday for sexually abusing four former students.

According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Stefan Zappey, 56, of Stuttgart, Germany, was employed by the Department of Defense Education Activity (DODEA) between 2001 and 2021 and taught first through third grade at Patch Elementary school, which is located on a U.S. military installation near Stuttgart. Army criminal investigators were notified in 2020 that one of Zappey’s former students reported that he touched her inappropriately under her clothing between 2009 and 2010. Investigators interviewed four of Zappey’s former students who reported that Zappey placed his hand inside their underwear and touched their genitals. Other students and faculty members of Patch Elementary reported that Zappey frequently hugged students, had them sit on his lap, and touched their backs and stomachs under their clothes. The victims were between six and eight years old at the time of the sexual abuse.

Zappey was convicted of four counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child and four counts of abusive sexual contact. He is scheduled to be sentenced on May 2 and faces a mandatory minimum penalty of 30 years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan for the Northern District of Georgia, Assistant Director Luis Quesada of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division, and Acting Special Agent in Charge Lisa Yockel of the Department of Army Criminal Investigation Division (CID) Europe Field Office made the announcement.

The FBI and Army CID Europe Field Office investigated the case.

Trial Attorney Eduardo Palomo of the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Leanne Marek of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia are prosecuting the case.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.

Updated January 19, 2023