MARIETTA, Ga. — An educator who taught the children of U.S. military personnel at an Army base in Germany is accused of sexually assaulting two young students, court records show.
Stefan Eberhard Zappey has been a civilian employee of the U.S. Department of Defense, assigned to an elementary school at an Army base near Stuttgart, Germany, prosecutors said.
On Tuesday, he was indicted by a federal grand jury in Georgia, charged with two counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child committed by a person employed by the Armed Forces outside of the United States.
This March, one student told a teacher that she’d been abused in 2007 and 2008, when she was less than 9 years old, according to a recently unsealed complaint in U.S. District Court in Georgia. She said she didn't report the abuse back then because she didn’t know it was wrong, the complaint states.
Her report led military investigators to interview other former students and faculty members, some of whom shared stories of inappropriate touching by Zappey. Another girl also said that when she was under 9 years old, Zappey would call her to his desk during class and put his hand inside her shirts and pants, court records state.
A federal public defender representing Zappey did not respond to a request for comment.
An FBI special agent said she learned that Zappey was in the U.S. this summer visiting relatives. He was arrested last month in Georgia after she traced his cell phone to Fayetteville, a city south of Atlanta. Federal law allows Zappey, who is a U.S. citizen, to be charged in the U.S. if the crimes occurred in a U.S. military installation overseas.
A preliminary court hearing set for July 30 was canceled because Zappey was in quarantine due to exposure to COVID-19. He's been held at a federal detention center in Lovejoy, Georgia, south of Atlanta.