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Press Release

Former elementary school teacher sentenced for sexually abusing children

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Georgia

ATLANTA - Stefan Zappey has been sentenced to federal prison for sexually abusing four of his former elementary school students near Stuttgart, Germany.

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

“Zappey presented himself as a dedicated teacher, but in reality, he is the most dangerous type of predator, an educator who uses his position of trust to gain access to children and victimize them for his own sick gratification,” said Keri Farley, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “The FBI remains committed to protecting children and is thankful for the law enforcement partnerships that make it possible to stop people like Zappey from victimizing anyone else.”

“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.”

“Victimizing and preying on DoD dependents is unacceptable,” said Ryan Hall, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Department of the Army Criminal Investigation Division’s 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.”

According to U.S. Attorney Buchanan, the charges and other information presented in court: Stefan Zappey sexually abused four of his former elementary school students between 2006 and 2010.  At the time, Zappey was employed by the Department of Defense Education Activity (DODEA) federal school system as a first- through third-grade teacher at Patch Elementary school. The school is located on a U.S. military installation near Stuttgart, Germany.

Specifically, in 2019, Army criminal investigators were notified that one of Zappey’s former students reported that Zappey touched her inappropriately under her clothing when she was a student at Patch Elementary in 2009 and 2010.  An investigation that followed revealed that four of Zappey’s former students reported that Zappey placed his hand inside their underwear and directly touched their genitals on multiple occasions. The victims were between six and eight years old and were elementary school students at the time of the sexual abuse.  At trial, 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.

Stefan Zappey, 57, of Stuttgart, Germany, has been sentenced to life in prison, and to pay a special assessment of $800.00.  Zappey was found guilty by a jury on January 18, 2023.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and U.S. Army Criminal Investigative Division.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Leanne M. Marek and Trial Attorney Eduardo Palomo of the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section prosecuted the case.

This case is being brought as part of Project Safe Childhood. In February 2006, the Attorney General launched Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from online exploitation and abuse.  Led by the United States Attorney’s Offices around the country, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit

For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at or (404) 581-6016.  The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is

Updated May 2, 2023

Project Safe Childhood