CHICAGO--()--Following on the heels of a lawsuit against prolific serial pedophile Thomas Hacker and the Boy Scouts of America last December, Chicago attorney Christopher Hurley today filed four additional lawsuits on behalf of different John Doe plaintiffs, covering a 17-year timespan after Hacker moved to the Chicago area from Indiana.
“Hacker’s employers allowed him to have an unacceptable level of private, unsupervised access to children. Hacker escorted these children on field trips and campouts, unaccompanied by any other adults, and also spent significant time with them in his offices, during odd hours, behind closed doors.”
Despite a criminal record containing one conviction in Indiana for sexually assaulting a minor and one conviction in Illinois for taking indecent liberties with a child, Hacker was hired as an elementary school teacher at Doolittle East Elementary School in Chicago and later was hired by and served as president of the Burbank Park District. Both of these positions put him in everyday contact with young children. Three of today’s lawsuits are against Hacker, the Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Board of Education; one suit is against Hacker and the Burbank Park District.
The suits were filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County, IL and cover the periods from 1971 to 1974, when Hacker worked as a schoolteacher, and from 1984 to 1988, when he was employed by the Burbank Park District.
Representing each of the John Doe plaintiffs in the four “John Doe” cases, are Chicago attorneys Christopher T. Hurley and Evan Smola, of Hurley McKenna & Mertz P.C. Plaintiffs are allowed under Illinois law to file lawsuits dealing with sexual assault issues under the generic name of “John Doe” when they wish to remain anonymous. The firm has handled a wide variety of sexual abuse cases, including cases against the Catholic Church, the Archdiocese of Chicago, the Irish Christian Brothers and the Boy Scouts of America.
Commented Hurley, “After two convictions for molesting children, this criminal pedophile was hired in jobs that allowed him to prey on more kids – not once or twice but dozens of times over the span of nearly two decades. There was a collective failure of multiple institutions to protect children entrusted to them.” He continued, “Hacker’s employers allowed him to have an unacceptable level of private, unsupervised access to children. Hacker escorted these children on field trips and campouts, unaccompanied by any other adults, and also spent significant time with them in his offices, during odd hours, behind closed doors.”
During the period from 1971 to ’74, the suits allege, Hacker worked as a teacher at Doolittle East and “routinely and frequently” molested the three John Doe plaintiffs, who, when the molestations began, were 10 to 11 years old. John Doe 1 alleges assaults during this entire period, as he was in 5th, 6th and 7th grades; John Doe 2 and 3 allege a very similar pattern of attacks over different, single school years.
Hacker continued to molest young children during the 1984 to ’88 timeframe, when he was an employee of the Burbank Park District, serving in capacities including park district director. The John Doe in the case against the Burbank Park District was ten years old when he became active in little league baseball and other park district activities. The suit alleges that the park district, like the Chicago Public Schools, failed to discover Hacker’s prior convictions and protect the children in their care. As a result, the John Doe plaintiff in this case was molested as frequently as once a week during the summer months, for a period of years.
Hacker was also named in a suit filed December 4, 2012, with the Boy Scouts of America and the Chicago Area Council as co-defendants, alleging numerous instances of sexual assault and battery against a plaintiff in the 1985 to ’86 timeframe, when Hacker was a scoutmaster.
In each newly-filed case, the John Doe plaintiffs maintain that after the molestations took place, each suppressed the memory of the incidents until media reports of the December lawsuit came to light. Illinois law extends the statute of limitations in cases of abused children where the child’s memory has been suppressed or where the institutional defendant concealed its wrongdoing.
Hacker, now 76, was convicted in 1989 of five counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault against three boy scouts, and was sentenced to two consecutive 50-year terms in Illinois prison. Hacker is described by author Patrick Boyle in a 1995 book, Scout’s Honor: Sexual Abuse in America’s Most Trusted Institution, as “the most prolific molester in Scouting: He moved among troops and schools for 25 years, molesting, by his estimate, ‘well over 100’ boys.” Whether that number includes his victims outside of the scouting context is unclear.
Hurley McKenna & Mertz, P.C. is a partnership of trial lawyers dedicated to fighting for the rights of ordinary people whose lives have been destroyed by the negligence of others. We take pride in providing outstanding personal service to our clients. For more information please visit: www.hurley-law.com.