Liberia: Teacher, Who Sent Nude Photos to Students, Found Dead
Douglas Matthew Vargas, Jr., a teacher at Our Lady of Grace International School who allegedly sent nude pictures and messages to several students, including the granddaughter of Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor has been found dead in his residence, according to a statement issued by the school.
“Vargas, known fondly on campus as Mr. V, was found lifeless in his home on December 20, by his house attendant who had noticed the door was locked from the inside,” said Fr. Maroun Zogheib, Director of Our Lady of Grace International School.
Vargas’ death is being ruled as a suicide, Police Spokesman Moses Carter said in a brief interview. “His home was not broken into and everything is still in tact.”
Vargas, a former teacher at the defunct More Than Me Academy, was reported to the school administration by a student who, according to Fr. Zogheib, “also alleged that the instructor had been engaged in sexual harassment with other female students.”
He was being called in for an investigation by the school, Fr. Zogheib said, but after several futile attempts prior to the discovery of his demise, he could not be reached. He said the instructor was notified about the consequences involved if it were discovered to be true.
“But the instructor's phone rang endlessly without a response; and upon arrival of his house attendant, who has a key to his house, it was established that the door was locked from the inside, thus prompting administration to contact the liberia national police who, upon arrival at the instructor’s house, managed to gain entrance and discovered his lifeless body. The police is currently investigating to ascertain the cause of death,” the school said in a statement.
The statement, however, fell short of disclosing whether the institution was investigating Vargas in tandem with the Liberia National Police.
Our Lady of Grace International School press statement in full
"Our lady of grace international school informs the parents, and the general public that an unfortunate occurrence involving one of its instructors who have engaged in forwarding nude photos and indecent messages to some of his female students was unearthed over the weekend. The instructor, Mr. Douglas Mathew Vargas Jr., was reported by a student who had displayed to the administration of the school some of the indecent messages sent to her phone by the instructor; she also alleged that the instructor had been engaged in sexual harassment with other female students.
"The administration immediately launched an internal investigation into the student's allegations and informed the instructor about the consequences of the acts complained should they be true and filed a written statement to the investigation committee. December 20, 2021, several calls were placed to the instructor, both from the Administration of the school and the school's legal counsel for the investigation into the complaint of sexual harassment; but the instructor's phone rang endlessly without a response; and upon arrival of his house attendant, who has a key to his house.
"It was established that the door was locked from the inside, thus prompting the administration to contact the Liberia national police, who upon arrival at the instructor's house, managed to gain entrance and discovered his lifeless body. The police are currently investigating to ascertain the cause of death. Our lady of grace international school remains committed to academic excellence and moral uprightness and will never compromise these virtues, and therefore assures parents as well as teaching staff of the school's resolve to promptly deal with persons in breach of these principles without fear or favor and in accordance to the laws of the Republic of Liberia."
Meanwhile, the U.S Embassy in Monrovia has said that, " We can confirm the death of a U.S. Citizen in Liberia and we offer sincere condolences to the family on their loss. We are aware of the allegations." The U.S statement was issued by Sean Boda, Head of Public Affairs.
Police spokesman Moses Carter, however, informed the Daily Observer that the Police had been informed of Vargas’ conduct. “And before we could start the investigation, the alleged suicide happened.” Vargas’ unethical conduct was unearthed over the weekend when a source on the campus tipped the Daily Observer over the alleged incident after fearing the school was attempting to keep it under the wraps.
“...People need to know what these expats are trying to do in Liberia. It’s bad enough we have to deal with the bad guys here,” the source said.
However, Our Lady of Grace International School says it remains committed to academic excellence and moral uprightness, which will never be compromised.
This story has been updated with the U.S government response.