By the time Thomas Hacker re-entered the Chicago-area Boy Scouts as a merit badge counselor, committee chairman and de facto scoutmaster in 1984, he was followed by a trail of sexual assault and battery convictions, as well as accusations of molesting young boys.
Now, a new lawsuit filed last week in Cook County Circuit Court offers graphic details of extensive abuse against the former scouts of St. Louis de Montfort Troop 1600.
Hacker, now 76, remains incarcerated in an Illinois prison, serving a 100-year sentence after he was convicted in 1989 on multiple counts of aggravated sexual assault against three scouts from the Oak Lawn Boy Scout troop.
At the time of his conviction, the Illinois Department of Family and Children Services reported to the Boy Scouts of America that 34 scouts had been victims of child abuse at the hands of Hacker.
Sixteen former scouts have stepped forward, joining in a lawsuit against Hacker, the Boy Scouts of America and the Chicago Area Council. The plaintiffs, now grown men, allege that the Boy Scouts failed to protect them from Hacker, a convicted pedophile, even though his name appeared in a confidential “ineligible volunteer” dating back to 1970.
The “John Does,” who wish to remain anonymous, were between the ages of 10 and 13, when Hacker, using the power, authority and trust of his position as a Boy Scout leader, molested them.
It wasn’t until the release of the so-called “perversion files” last October, that former scouts recovered buried boyhood memories of abuse.
“You trust your pastors, priests, Boy Scout leaders, teachers, park district executives, on the assumption that they had the children’s best interests at heart,” Christopher Hurley, the plaintiffs’ Chicago attorney said. “What these institutions have known all along, especially the Catholic Church and Boy Scouts, is that pedophiles use these institutions as a way to get access to children.
“They know it and they have covered it up for years and years. It deserves the light of day to be shone on it.”
The court complaint reveals hundreds of deviant sex acts collectively committed by Hacker against the the scouts, earning him the dubious distinction as the “most prolific molester in scouting.”
In one occurrence, a John Doe was forced to strip naked in order to try on his scout uniform. Hacker is also accused of pinning boys against pool tables, attacking them while they slept in tents during scout camping trips, and locking them in the church. Many acts of abuse allegedly occurred in group settings.
Between 1980 and 1988, Troop 1600 had a revolving door of 10 to 15 members from Burbank and Oak Lawn, who rotated in and out of scouting program. Hacker was finally arrested in 1988 for molesting three scouts in the St. Louis de Montfort Troop. Hurley said the other troop members lied to Burbank Police about Hacker molesting them out of shame and embarrassment.
““They were just kids and scared,” Hurley said. “I don’t think the police handled it great, but I’m not sure how much experience the police at the time had with something awful like this.”
Hurley called the Boy Scouts a “magnet for pedophiles” established by the by files collected and maintained in secrecy by the Boy Scouts of America for many years.
Provided that fraudulent concealment can be established, the statute of limitations within which adult survivors of child sex abuse can file civil suits does not apply to the former members of Troop 1600, Hurley said.
“The Boy Scouts of America knew that Hacker had been a three-time convicted felon before letting get involved in the troop,” the attorney continued. “The scouts didn’t come clean until October 2012 when somebody published the perversion files.
"You have a duty to disclose the truth when something like this happens. The Boy Scouts not only didn’t disclose it, they actively covered it up.”