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Alleged victim sues Boy Scouts for failing to protect him from molester

St. Louis de Montfort Church Oak Lawn Tuesday December 4 2012. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media

St. Louis de Montfort Church in Oak Lawn on Tuesday, December 4, 2012. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: December 4, 2012 7:45PM



For decades, a 35-year-old man lived with the years of sexual abuse he claims he suffered as a boy at the hands of serial pedophile Scoutmaster Thomas Hacker.

Now he is suing Hacker, the Boy Scouts of America and the organization’s Chicago Area Council for more than $50 million for their roles in the abuse. The lawsuit comes a little less than two months after the Boy Scouts’ “ineligible volunteer files,” which were used to track pedophiles within the organization, were made public.

“There’s a tendency for people to hush up in these situations, which is something that plays into hands of pedophiles, criminals that victimize children,” said the man’s attorney, Chris Hurley. “My client strongly feels that bringing this story to light may help people come forward and help society get it out and deal with it.”

The victim, who is not named in the suit, was molested by Hacker “on routine occasions,” starting in 1985, according to the suit filed in Cook County Circuit Court on Tuesday. Hacker and the Boy Scouts of America were previously sued in 1990 and 1992 for similar charges.

Hacker, now 75, is serving a 100-year prison term for molesting a 14-year-old member of a Boy Scout troop he led at a parish in Oak Lawn in the 1980s.

Long before that — and long before the abuse alleged in this week’s lawsuit — he was arrested in Indiana for sexual assault and battery of boys while he was a teacher in the Indianapolis public schools in 1970. Just after he was convicted, he pleaded guilty in 1971 to taking “indecent liberties” with a boy in Mount Prospect.

When he left Indiana, Hacker taught in the Chicago Public Schools and then took a job at Most Holy Redeemer Catholic School in Evergreen Park in 1982. He quit the job months later that year after school officials discovered he had encouraged three students to stay after class and prompted one of them to drop his pants.

Six years after leaving Most Holy Redeemer Catholic School, Hacker showed up at St. Louis de Montfort in Oak Lawn. This time not as a teacher but as a leader of Boy Scout Troop 1600. At the time, he was also youth director for the Burbank Park District.

According to the lawsuit, Hacker first molested the man in 1985 when he was 10 years old, after the two met through the troop. The abuse lasted until 1987, and Hacker was charged with his other crimes involving members of the troop in February 1988.

Boy Scouts of America spokesman Deron Smith wrote in a statement that “any instance of child victimization or abuse is intolerable and unacceptable.”

“While we have not seen this lawsuit, we deeply regret that there have been times when Scouts were abused, and for that we are very sorry and extend our deepest sympathies to victims,” Smith said.

A spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Chicago, which oversees both Most Holy Redeemer and St. Louis de Montfort, declined to comment.

Hurley said while there is no correspondence between Hacker and his client linking him to the crimes, his client and his parents plan to testify about the sexual abuse in court.

Additionally, Hurley said his client was one of 34 people the Illinois Department of Children and Family services identified as victims of Hacker. The man and his parents were ready to testify in court during the trial that led to Hacker’s current prison sentence, but they were not called to the stand.

Saint Xavier University police Chief Jack Touhy, who investigated Hacker extensively while in the Burbank Police Department, recalled him as charming and intelligent.

Hacker was a Fulbright scholar who earned a master’s degree in psychology and counseling. He also was a family man who had three children with his wife before getting divorced in 1988.

Like many high-functioning pedophiles, Hacker was adept at getting new jobs that allowed him private access to children, Touhy said. Whether it was changing his middle initial to fool sex-offender databases or applying for jobs where fingerprinting wasn’t a requirement, Hacker always managed to escape his past.

“Some people made decisions that said, ‘If it didn’t happen to me, let’s move on,’” Touhy said. “When you’re trying to police yourself like the Boy Scouts and the Archdiocese of Chicago were trying to do, it obviously didn’t work.”



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