In 1985, a young boy was reportedly molested multiple times by his Boy Scout leader, Thomas Hacker. While Hacker is now in prison, the alleged victim is suing the Boy Scouts of America for failing to protect him from the assaults.
The now 35-year-old man is seeking more than $50 million from the organization.
The victim, who is not named in the lawsuit, is suing the organization’s Chicago Area Council for failing to protect him from the molester, who became the victim’s scoutmaster after previously molesting children in another state.
The 35-year-old claims that he was molested “on routine occasions” by Thomas Hacker in 1985. The suit, filed in Cook County Circuit Court on Tuesday, maintains that the Boy Scouts knew of Hacker’s history of pedophilia yet did not perform a background check on Hacker when he transferred from Indiana to Illinois.
According to the suit, Hacker had been previously “arrested for homosexual activity with many boys both in Scouting and through the school in which he was teaching” while in Indiana. While in Indiana, Hacker was convicted of a felony sexual assault of a 14-year-old boy in the junior high school where he worked. A top official in the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) noted after the arrest: “Under no circumstances do we want registered sex offenders in Scouting.”
Hacker was added to the secret “ineligible volunteer” list that the organization maintained, according to the lawsuit.
But when Hacker moved to Illinois a decade later, the “ineligible volunteer” list was not consulted. No background check was given, and the convicted pedophile was once again given free reign over young boys.
The lawsuit claims that the BSA system for preventing pedophiles from infiltrating the organization “did not function as it was intended, was flawed, and in many cases ineffective.”
Hacker went on to abuse more boys including the plaintiff. Hacker was finally arrested in 1988. His 1989 conviction found him guilty of the aggravated sexual assault of an 11-year-old member of his troop in the southwest suburbs of Chicago.
The pedophile was sentenced to two concurrent 50-year prison terms. His defense attorney in the 1989 case called Hacker “a classic pedophile – and sick beyond that.”
Now, another of Hacker’s victims is stepping forward, not to convict his attacker, but to sue the BSA for their inability to keep Hacker away from children, particularly after he had already been convicted of sexual assault against a child.
“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,” Boy Scouts of America spokesman Deron Smith said in a statement.
The Boy Scouts of America is one of the largest youth organizations in the country. Due to the current case, the BSA was forced by an Oregon Court to release internal documents they kept on scout leaders and volunteers who were suspected sexual predators.
“The Boy Scouts have taken the view that keeping these files secret protects the children,” said Christopher Hurley, the Chicago attorney representing John Doe in the case filed Tuesday.
“But in this case it obviously didn’t work. It may protect the molesters and the Boy Scouts, but it’s not in the best interests of children.”
Smith maintains that, in the past 30 years, the BSA has added background checks and training programs to prevent abusers from joining their ranks. They also require that law officials be notified immediately when there are “even suspicions” of abuse.
Do you think the BSA are doing enough to protect children from pedophiles?