By Ellen Jean Hirst
6:15 PM EST, February 20, 2013
Thomas Hacker, a convicted pedophile who is more than 20 years into a 100-year prison sentence, was named as a defendant in four lawsuits filed Wednesday on behalf of men who say they were molested by Hacker decades ago.
The plaintiffs, all listed as “John Doe,” claim the alleged incidents took place in the 1970s and 1980s.
The Burbank Park District is named in one of the suits because Hacker was a park district director at the time he is accused of molesting one plaintiff in the early 1980s.
Three lawsuits name Chicago Public Schools as a defendant, because the alleged incidents took place when Hacker was a teacher in the early 1970s.
The lawsuits were filed in Cook County Circuit Court.
In December, a man said memories of his abuse when he was a 10-year-old Boy Scout surfaced after the Boy Scouts of America released its long-secret "perversion files" in October. He filed a suit against Hacker and the Boy Scouts, a case that is still pending.
Hacker, now 76, was convicted in 1989 of five counts of aggravated sexual assault. A state agency found that he had abused 34 boys in Illinois.
According to one of the lawsuits filed Wednesday, Hacker molested one boy as frequently as once a week during the summer on Burbank Park District property when the child was 10 years old.
The suit claims that the park district was negligent, because it failed to conduct a background check on Hacker, which would have revealed him as a pedophile, based on previous arrests and convictions.
Attorney Chris Hurley, who is representing the plaintiffs in the lawsuits filed Wednesday, said some men who say they were abused by Hacker had repressed the memories, which were jolted when the Boy Scouts released its list.
“When a child is sexually abused, there’s sort of an instinctive shame that goes along with that,” Hurley said. “That causes a child to become quiet.”
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