Additional lawsuits were filed Wednesday against a currently incarcerated sex abuse convict who served as an Scout leader, schoolteacher and park district executive.
Thomas Hacker, now 76, is serving a sentence on multiple convictions of aggravated criminal sexual abuse of young boys. The victims' reports date back to the 1980s and four others came forward this week, leading to even more charges filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County.
The latest victims allege that they were also sexually abused as children. They claim they suppressed memories of the alleged abuse until recent news reports of compiled by the Boy Scouts of America.
Despite his history of sex abuse convictions in Indiana in 1970; and later, northwest suburban Mt. Prospect in 1971; Hacker was hired as a teacher by the Chicago Public Schools and as a program director for the Burbank Park District covering the 17-year time span that he lived in Chicago.
During the same period, he also worked for the Oak Lawn Park District and volunteered as a Boy Scout leader at St. Louis de Montfort Church, according to reports. A similar lawsuit against Hacker—and the Boy Scouts—was filed on behalf of a south suburban man this past December.
In addition to Hacker, the most recent lawsuits name Chicago Public Schools, the Chicago Board of Education and the Burbank Park District, claiming each was negligent by not conducting background checks prior to giving Hacker the go-ahead to work with children.
“It’s really remarkable that a guy can be convicted of molesting children in Indiana and then come to Illinois and be convicted a little more than a year later for the same crime,” the plaintiffs' attorney Christopher Hurley said, “ ... And then (he could) get a job working in Chicago public schools and as a park director.”
Hacker was employed as a teacher at Doolittle Elementary School in Chicago between 1971 and 1974. During that period, he is alleged to have sexually abused three of the plaintiffs while they were his students.
The fourth John Doe plaintiff claims that Hacker sexually abused him as a child in the early 1980s. At that time, he worked as a program director for the Burbank Park District where he, "posed a constant threat to boys,” the lawsuit says.
“John Doe” was a minor living in Burbank where he participated in park district activities and youth baseball, according to the lawsuit. Between 1984 and 1986, Hacker is accused of repeatedly engaging the 10-year-old in oral sex—as often as once a week during the summer months—in his park district office.
Click on the pdf on the right to read the Burbank plaintiff's complaint.
In addition to suing Hacker, the plaintiff is also seeking more than $50,000 and attorney fees from the Burbank Park District.
Hurley commented that repressed memory—where victims recall traumatic life events, such as child sex abuse—is a real phenomenon.
“They don’t want to think or remember when it was happening because they can’t really comprehend it,” Hurley said. “Children don’t have a framework within which to understand what’s happened to them. It’s not until they’re adults when something triggers it and they realize how much they were harmed by it.”
Hacker was convicted in 1989 of criminal aggravated sexual assault based on the testimony of two Oak Lawn boy scouts. He has since been declared a sexually dangerous person and is serving an indefinite sentence in Big Muddy River Correctional Center. He has sex crime convictions out of Cook, Kendall and Kankakee counties.
Check back Friday for: "When Evil Stalked Oak Lawn: Thomas Hacker Victims and Colleagues Speak Out."