More than a dozen lawsuits were filed against the Boy Scouts of America Monday, alleging the 107-year-old organization was negligent in allowing a convicted sexual predator to infiltrate a southwest suburban scout troop in the 1980s.
The 15 suits, filed in Cook County Circuit Court, name the Boy Scouts of America and the organization’s Chicago Area Council as defendants. The complaints, which allege negligence and fraudulent concealment of claims, seek millions of dollars in damages.
The suits allege years of sexual abuse — between 1981 and 1988 — perpetrated by Thomas Hacker, 81 and now imprisoned, when he was affiliated with Scout Troop 1600 in southwest suburban Burbank.
Hacker — who also went by “Thomas Edwards” — worked as a scout leader in Indiana in the 1960s. In 1961, he was arrested for molesting boys during a scout camp out, according to the complaints. He would join at least two other scout troops in Indiana after that first arrest.
Ten years later, he was arrested in Cook County “for taking indecent liberties with a child,” the suits state.
The suits allege that despite Hacker’s pedophilia and predatory nature being known to Boy Scout leadership since at least 1971, he was still able to join Troop 1600 in the late 1970s or early 1980s.
“Boy Scouts of America did not conduct a background check on Mr. Hacker when he began volunteering with the Chicago Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America,” the suits allege.
Hacker was also labeled an “ineligible volunteer” by the Scouts in 1971, but that did not stop him from gaining access to children.
“In addition to being deemed an ‘Ineligible Volunteer,’ Thomas Hacker was also discharged from Chicago Public Schools for molesting children in the late 1970s or early 1980s,” the suits state.
The Boy Scouts of America did not immediately provide comment.
Hacker is accused of victimizing the scouts between 1981 and 1988. They ranged from 4 years old to teenagers, according to the suits. Many of the molestations allegedly occurred at scout-owned campground in western Michigan.
In 1989, Hacker — who has admitted to molesting hundreds of boys — was sentenced to 100 years in prison after he was arrested by Burbank police in 1988.
Last year, the Burbank Park District was itself the subject of a lawsuit that alleged the district was negligent in allowing Hacker’s attacks to go on.
Before Monday’s deluge of litigation, at least five other lawsuits related to Hacker’s attacks have been filed in Cook County since 1990.