Fifteen former members of an Oak Lawn Boy Scout troop filed a lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court on Wednesday morning against the Boy Scouts of America and the Chicago Area Council for failing to protect them from a known serial pedophile, that is now serving a 100-year prison sentence in Illinois.
Thomas Hacker, now 76, was convicted in 1989 of five counts of aggravated criminal sexual against three scouts and was sentenced to two concurrent 50-year terms.
The “John Does” who wish to remain anonymous, were members of Troop 1600 at St. Louis de Montfort. The former scouts, now grown men, allege serious, multiple acts of molestation by Hacker in groups or individually between 1980 and 1987.
All of the scouts ranged in age from 10 to 13 when the alleged acts of molestation occurred.
The lawsuit claims that the Boy Scouts were aware of dozens of sexual abuse allegations against Hacker in Indiana, where he had been arrested and convicted for child sexual assault in February 1970. Hacker was subsequently placed in the Boy Scout of America’s “ineligible volunteer files” that June.
Hacker was able to reenter the ranks of the Boy Scouts after relocating to Illinois, even after a 1971 conviction in Cook County for taking indecent liberties with a Mt. Prospect boy. He avoided detection as an “ineligible volunteer” by changing his middle initial.
The plaintiffs maintain that because of the Boy Scouts’ defective screening system, Hacker--then a married father of two--was able to move from council to council for the better part of two decades.
Hacker has been characterized in a book as the Boy Scouts’ “most prolific molester in scouting.” The convicted pedophile worked in troops, schools and park districts for 25 years and, by his estimation, molested “well over 100 boys.”
Representing the plaintiffs are Chicago attorneys Christopher Hurley and Evan Smola.
“These victims, and their parents, placed their trust and confidence in the Boy Scouts and the Scouts let them down in a way that forever changed their lives,” Hurley commented in a news release. “When abuse was reported, [the Boys Scouts of America] turned its back and not only ignored the victims, but continued to let Hacker snake through the system.”
Patch will have more on this story later.