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Path of a predator

A four-month Washington Post investigation of former Manassas teacher Kevin Ricks's career as a teacher, tutor, foreign exchange host and camp counselor has revealed a pattern of abuse that goes back to at least 1978 and has left a trail of victims that spans the globe.

1
NORTH CAROLINA/
GEORGIA/VIRGINIA

First alleged sex assault occurs

2
JAPAN

Taught English in Japan for seven years

3
DANVILLE, VA.

Hosts exchange students, allegedly abuses two

4
FEDERALSBURG, MD.

Suspicions mount as more allegations surface

5
MANASSAS, VA.

Schools warned, another victim leads to arrest

North Carolina, Georgia and Virginia

Kevin Ricks
Kevin Ricks

Ricks worked summers in the late 1970s as a counselor at Camp Holiday Trails, where he met his future wife and also a young boy, whom he allegedly molested in North Carolina in the summer of 1978 when he was 18 years old and the boy was 10.

After graduating from UNC Chapel Hill, Ricks worked at four different private schools in three states from 1983 to 1987, spending one school year at each. At the Brandon Hall School in greater Atlanta, he was a dorm master, meaning he lived with the students and acted as a residential adviser.

Japan

Going overseas with the Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme (JET), he moved to Kyushu, the nation's southernmost island, to teach English. Hired as a town teacher in Oguni, he was treated like a rock star and befriended many local youths. He had a special living space called "Kevin's Room" where he regularly gathered with young boys. After Ricks married on Dec. 20, 1992, Abby Ricks joined him in Japan.


Takashi Kajiwara
Takashi Kajiwara

In 1994, Ricks took one boy, Takashi Kajiwara, on a trip to the United States and drove across the country with him. In a California hotel room, Ricks gave Kajiwara shots of tequila until he passed out, Kajiwara said. Law enforcement officials say Ricks then made nude videotapes and photographs of Kajiwara while molesting him.

Ricks left Japan in 1995 after he was accused of shoplifting and school officials refused to renew his contract.

Danville, Va.

Danville house
Ricks's house in Danville

Ricks moved with his wife to her college town, and he immediately began teaching again. He taught in North Carolina for one year on a temporary license and then took a full-time job in Danville, despite not having a valid Virginia license. He also began working for an exchange program for foreign students, bringing in dozens of students from around the globe.

While in Danville, Ricks allegedly molested a German student and then a student from Denmark, Uffe Emborg. Emborg said that after a night of drinking with Ricks, he felt as if something unusual had happened and began looking around the house, later discovering nude photographs of himself in Ricks's bedside table. After confronting Ricks, the two of them burned the photographs in a backyard grill. Because Ricks apparently confessed to a friend, police later arrived at the house asking questions about the abuse, but Emborg, afraid, did not report what he had found. At another point, students discovered nude photographs of male teenagers in the trunk of Ricks's car.

Ricks left Danville shortly after he allegedly stole $2,000 from a Brazilian student's bank account and he was fired by the exchange program for foreign students, Education First.

Federalsburg, Md.

Ricks's house in Federalsburg
Ricks's home in Federalsburg
Audio
"He doesn't leave me alone now."
-German student describes Ricks in court hearing
Press play to listen:
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Ricks took a job as an English teacher at Col. Richardson High School in Caroline County in 2000 and received a temporary three-year teaching license. He led a group called "Students Helping Other People" and was accused by parents of stalking a member of the group, infiltrating the student's life and spending an inordinate amount of time with him. The parents went to the School Board, which looked into the issue and contacted child protective services. Ricks's contract was allowed to expire in 2003, with officials citing a licensing technicality. Backroom discussions, however, focused on allegations of inappropriate behavior.

After he was let go, Ricks continued to take in foreign exchange students. In the 2003-04 school year, he had a German exchange student who was removed from his home after the student reported feeling uncomfortable. After Ricks pursued the boy with phone calls and gifts, the student and his new host mother went to the courts for a restraining order against Ricks. The order was not granted. ASSE barred Ricks from hosting other students, but Ricks managed to host foreign students again, and ASSE removed the student and fired Ricks.

In 2006, a parent complained that Ricks asked his 13-year-old son to sit in his lap while playing video games. Police investigated but found no evidence of a crime. In Spring 2007, Ricks was convicted of felony theft. He appealed the conviction and began looking for new work.

Manassas, Va.

Ricks was hired in Manassas on Aug. 20, 2007, nine days before he was again convicted of theft and served a weekend in jail. He wrote in application materials that he had never been convicted of a charge or offense.

In 2008, while tutoring a Fauquier County boy, he was accused of stalking both the boy and the boy's friend. Parents took a series of inappropriate myspace messages to the Osbourn High School principal and alleged that Ricks was a predator.

One year after the accusations surfaced, Manassas schools put in for a full five-year teaching license for Ricks, though he was ineligible for one. It would have been his first full teaching license of his 22-year career, but the Virginia Department of Education denied the requests. Three months later, Ricks allegedly molested a 16-year-old former student of his over winter break, writing in his journals that he had a loving encounter with him in the basement of the boy's father's home.

Ricks was arrested on Feb. 18, 2010 after police were alerted to inappropriate facebook.com messages between Ricks and the boy. When authorities searched his home in Federalsburg, they found stacks of handwritten journals that detailed three decades of abuse and also discover videotapes and photographs of the abuse of numerous boys.

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SOURCES: Washington Post staff reports. CREDITS: Research and reporting by Josh White, Blaine Harden, Jennifer Buske, Michael Alison Chandler and Meg Smith; Design and production by Kat Downs; Maps by Laris Karklis; Audio editing by Francine Uenuma.
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Lurking in the schools

Kevin Ricks moved from one teaching job to the next over nearly 30 years, navigating the nation's public and private school systems undetected, evading traps designed to catch him.

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