I’m desperately sorry, says head who employed paedophile William Vahey

The headteacher who employed the serial paedophile William Vahey has said he is “desperately sorry” about what occurred.

Terry Hedger employed the US-born Vahey in 2009 to perform as a humanities instructor at the £25,000-a-year Southbank Global college in central London.

But Vahey went on to drug and abuse 60 teenage boys on discipline journeys in the United kingdom and abroad. Hedger was this week singled out for extreme criticism in an independent report into the teacher’s criminality.

Hugh Davies QC, appointed by Sir Chris Woodhead, the former chief inspector of schools who now heads Southbank’s board, located Hedger had acquired complaints about Vahey’s conduct but did nothing at all beyond interviewing him – and in one particular case assuring him he would defend his “fine track record and standing”. Hedger also rubbished a complaint about Vahey from a family as unfair pressure from “vindictive parents”.

Davies mentioned dad and mom, kids and teachers have suffered “enduring, damaging” emotions as a outcome of Vahey’s crimes.

Hedger stated on Thursday: “I accept that we have been not sufficiently knowledgeable, trained and structured to deal with an individual like Vahey. If I knew then what I know now I would have carried out a great deal of issues in a different way at the time.”

Scotland Yard and the FBI are investigating Vahey’s targeting of adolescent boys at global schools from Indonesia to Venezuela. He secured the jobs despite becoming jailed for youngster sex abuse in California in 1969. Vahey, 64, killed himself in March soon after hundreds of indecent pictures of child abuse were found on his pc in Nicaragua, where he was teaching.

“My heart goes out to the parents and college students who have been targeted by Vahey,” stated Hedger. “What he did was one particular of everybody’s worst nightmares and I am desperately sorry that it happened in our school. I am also concerned for all the fine, hard-doing work and focused senior workers and teachers who were at Southbank with Vahey and who have inadvertently been caught up in the subsequent investigation. They are all ‘victims of Vahey’ as nicely.”

Referring to background checks on Vahey which incorporated references, an enhanced criminal records bureau examine and police clearance that only went as far back as his preceding occupation in Venezuela, he stated: “We trusted the validity of this details. Right after his appointment he proved to be a great, extremely well-liked instructor and I trusted him to do his occupation professionally. That was a mistake.”

Hedger was head of the college from 2006 to 2012 and was warned about Vahey’s behaviour on one school trip by the school’s little one safety officer, after a pupil complained that Vahey was “creepy”, would tickle pupils awake in their beds and tell them to rest in only their pants. The officer voiced concern at Vahey moving an unwell little one to a distinct space, a tactic he utilized to mask his abuse, and reported the incident to Hedger – who named Vahey in.

“Vahey mentioned he could see it may well search poor but that it was completely innocent,” the officer informed Davies’s inquiry. “He had basically been caring for a sick pupil.” No additional investigations had been made, even even though Hedger felt the want to warn a instructor operating a later on journey with Vahey to preserve an eye on the youngsters and make certain their rooms have been not switched about.

“We didn’t investigate the matter far enough or ask Vahey difficult-edged queries,” the kid protection officer admitted.

That up coming journey resulted in a complaint from a parent. Several kids had fallen sick and Vahey actively discouraged an additional instructor from informing mother and father. A parent later told Hedger about an unspecified “inappropriate comment” Vahey manufactured to college students that Davies explained was sufficiently regarding that it should have been reported to the regional authority’s youngster secure-guarding officer.

Hedger made a decision to take Vahey off the next journey but went no further and when Vahey challenged the selection he said informed Vahey “don’t worry” and attributed the complaint to “vindictive parents”.

Even though Hedger was singled out in the report, there were also stern criticisms of the oversight of the college which is owned by Cognita, which was chaired by Woodhead. “The structures of governance did not supply effective supervision of individuals with operational duty for child protection,” mentioned Davies.

He found that although Vahey was working for the school, Southbank’s safeguarding policy was “arguably not compliant” in terms of the procedures for reporting little one abuse worries, internally, to the social companies and dad and mom.

Cognita’s safeguarding policy was also not compliant in terms of when worries ought to be raised with social solutions and what the threshold for a concern is, nor for parental involvement and the definition of a sexual offence. The policy has given that been rectified.

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