The JIS case: It never rains but it pours

One of the characteristics of a crisis-like situation is that when you think that things can’t get worse, they do.

It now turns out that a “prolific” child predator, who taught at the Jakarta International School (JIS) about 2 decades ago, took his life because the FBI was investigating his alleged trangressions (see CNN story below).

JIS knew about Vahey and JIS headmaster Tim Carr alluded to him in his press conference, saying that they were assisting the FBI for a case that occurred 17 years ago.

None of the media took up the story then but now that Vahey’s death has brought his case, and the fact that he worked at JIS in the past, into the limelight there will be renewed interest in the possible extent of the adage he did while at JIS.

It may be an answer that no one is able to answer adequately but that won’t stop the media from trying to find instantaneous answers.

So now there is Vahey, an alleged separate instance of a janitor molesting a JIS student around that time (was posted in an alumni’s FB page and then taken down soon after) and now the incident with the six-year old boy. The media will want to know if there are any other skeletons in the closet.

One can only hope that JIS is being prepped to handle the slew of questions that will surely come their way.

FBI seeks victims of ‘prolific’ international child predator –

FBI seeks victims of ‘prolific’ international child predator

By CNN Staff

April 22, 2014 — Updated 2115 GMT (0515 HKT)

Images provided by the FBI show William James Vahey in 2013 (left) and in 1986.


FBI: William James Vahey taught at private schools in 9 countries for 42 years

He’s one of “the most prolific alleged predators we’ve ever seen,” agent tells KPRC

Thumb drive allegedly contained images depicting sexual assault on children

FBI is asking potential victims to contact them or nearest American Embassy

Images provided by the FBI show William James Vahey in 2013 (left) and in 1986.

(CNN) — An alleged child predator who taught at schools across the world for more than four decades may have more victims, and the FBI is trying to track them down, the agency’s Houston bureau said Tuesday.

William James Vahey killed himself in Luverne, Minnesota, last month, two days after a federal judge in Houston said authorities could search one of Vahey’s thumb drives that allegedly contained images depicting sexual assault on children, CNN affiliate KPRC reported.

There were images of at least 90 victims, dating back to 2008, and the FBI is encouraging additional alleged victims to come forward. The images on the thumb drive allegedly belonging to Vahey showed boys, estimated to be between 12 and 14 years old, asleep or unconscious, the agency said.

The images had captions and dates referencing places that Vahey had previously traveled with students, the FBI said.

“This is one of the most prolific alleged predators we’ve ever seen,” Houston FBI Special Agent Shauna Dunlap told the station.

Vahey began teaching in private schools in 1972, the FBI says. He last taught at the American Nicaraguan School in Pista Suburbana, Managua, Nicaragua from August 2013 until March 11, two days before he committed suicide, KPRC reported.

The case came to law enforcement attention after Vahey fired his maid for allegedly stealing personal items from his home last year, KPRC said. In March, the ex-maid brought a stolen thumb drive to the American Nicaraguan School, saying she came forward because the drive contained sexual images, the station reported.

The FBI said that when Vahey was confronted with the images, he “reportedly admitted molesting boys throughout his entire life and said he gave the minors sleeping pills prior to the molestation.”

He had residences in London and Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, and traveled extensively, the FBI said. He worked at schools in nine countries, teaching a variety of subjects and coaching boys’ basketball. He regularly accompanied students on overnight field trips, the FBI said.

The schools where he taught are, according to the FBI:

— American Nicaraguan School in Managua, Nicaragua (2013-2014)

— Southbank International School in London, United Kingdom (2009-2013)

— Escuela Campo Alegre in Caracas, Venezuela (2002-2009)

— Jakarta International School in Jakarta, Indonesia (1992-2002)

— Saudi Aramco Schools in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia (1980-1992)

— American Community School in Athens, Greece (1978-1980)

— Passargad School in Ahwaz, Iran (1976-1978)

— American School of Madrid in Spain (1975-1976)

— American Community School of Beirut in Lebanon (1973-1975)

— Tehran American School in Iran (1972-1973)

Anyone who has information on Vahey and who believes he victimized them can send a confidential e-mail to or contact their local FBI office or nearest U.S. Embassy.


5 thoughts on “The JIS case: It never rains but it pours

  1. Sad times abound in Indonesia with all the sexual abuse cases coming to light (Not just JIS).
    Southbank International School in London is going through the same thing but are doing things quite differently (so are the Govt.). Not just JIS but the Indonesian Govt. need to step up and follow in their steps.
    Southbank officials made an instant statement that was humble, wise, and well thought out. Showing remorse and giving details into their process of teaching staff selection and admitting that they did not know (and with factual documentation, couldn’t know). Then cooperating with the investigators immediately and owning up to the fact that there could be more than 30 victims based on Vahey’s USB data alone. The govt. then made a statement and headlines starting popping up about how pedophilia would be treated the same as terrorism, which is a HUGE thing in Europe, with actual steps being placed in laws through parliament. The media in England is way more vicious than Indonesia (especially the Daily Mail – showing no etiquette whatsoever and publishing a picture of Vahey’s wife in full view for the world to see), but even they found it hard to direct their usual nastiness at the govt. and the school (unlike what has happened here in Indonesia).
    The British are way more tight lipped than any American and are usually prone to short sentences when something as bad as this shows up, but they handled it so well. Timothy Carr needs to answer questions directly and not repeat the same old jargon of emptiness and small talk that he does so often when he shows up on TV. It makes it look as if there really is something that he is hiding, and that’s tragic because I am sure that JIS as an institute and as a whole has done some good for their students seeing as most actually do turn out well and do go on to make a good life for themselves.


    1. @Mariza: Thanks for your insights and sharing the information about Southbank. I tend to agree with you about JIS’s response. I think they failed to portray pedophilia as this insidious enemy that we all face, how it is so difficult to detect, like terrorists among us. They did try to do that in their talk at the JDFCC but the emphasis was not there. I too think that JIS has the best of intentions, and have probably conducted themselves responsibly. But it is not enough, they say the right, formulaic things but they are not ahead of the game when it comes to anticipating what comes next. Crisis communications and not crisis management.


      1. So mow that allegations are coming out about possible police brutality against these cleaners, the arrest of Indonesian and Canadian citizens for possession of magic stones, and these men being held in jail for over 90 days now- is Unspun going to explain what a foreign company should do when it is being held to ransom by the authorities, NGOs and voracious lawyers?

        Because I really would like to know. What should an organisation do when confronted with these circumstances. Isn’t Unspun worried it could dragged into these circumstances?


      2. Firstly, thanks for naming your account Unspun Critic. Such an honour. Secondly, I think your question is already answered in my various blog posts.

        When confronted with a situation such as JIS’s, they need to respond nd communicate fast and with skill; frame the issue before others do. And then be relentless in shaping and controlling the narrative where media coverage and public opinion is concerned. If they can sustain this then the public scrutiny is likely to deter the bad guys.


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