Federal jury sentences a former elementary school teacher of sexually abusing four students

Yesterday, a federal jury found a former elementary school teacher guilty of sexually assaulting four former students.

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, according to court documents and trial evidence.

In 2020, Army criminal investigators were informed by one of Zappey’s former students that he improperly groped her beneath her clothes between 2009 and 2010. Four former students of Zappey told investigators that he had inserted his hand inside their underpants and touched their genital area.

Other students and teachers at Patch Elementary said that Zappey routinely embraced students, invited them to sit on his lap, and caressed their backs and bellies under their clothing. The youngsters were between the ages of six and eight when they were sexually abused.

Four charges of severe sexual assault of a minor and four counts of abusive sexual contact led to Zappey’s conviction. On May 2, he will be sentenced, and he faces a required minimum of 30 years in jail. After considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory criteria, a federal district court judge will impose any punishment.

The announcement was made by Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Criminal Division of the Justice Department, 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.

The FBI and Army CID Europe Field Office conducted the investigation.

The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Eduardo Palomo of the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section of the Criminal Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Leanne Marek of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia.

This case was filed as part of Project Safe Childhood, a countrywide campaign started by the Department of Justice in May 2006 to tackle the scourge of child sexual exploitation and abuse.

Project Safe Childhood, led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, marshals federal, state, and local resources to seek, capture, prosecute, and identify and rescue victims of online child exploitation. Please visit www.justice.gov/psc for more information about Project Safe Childhood.

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