A former Boy Scout who says he was sexually assaulted when he
was 10 by his now-imprisoned former troop leader sued the Boy
Scouts of America today, citing recently released files the
group secretly maintained on suspected molesters in its
The lawsuit claims the Boy Scouts allowed Thomas Hacker, a
Scout leader barred from the group after a 1970s felony sex
abuse conviction in Indiana, to rejoin as a volunteer in
Illinois in the 1980s, where he went on to molest more boys,
including the plaintiff.
Hacker was arrested in 1988 and convicted in 1989 of the
aggravated sexual assault of a 11-year-old member of his
troop in the southwest suburbs of Chicago.
Now 75, Hacker is currently serving two concurrent 50-year
prison terms as a result of his conviction. His defence
attorney in the 1989 case called him "a classic paedophile -
and sick beyond that," according to a Chicago Tribune story
at the time.
The lawsuit filed by a man identified only as John Doe
claimed Hacker sexually assaulted him when he was 10 years
old after the disbarred Boy Scout leader and convicted sexual
molester re-joined the Scouts in Illinois.
"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
The suit draws on details unearthed this fall when the Boy
Scouts of America, one of the country's largest youth
organisations, was forced by an Oregon Court to release
internal documents they kept on scout leaders and volunteers
who were suspected sexual predators.
The files go back almost to the organisation's founding in
1910 and were known as the "red files," the "perversion
files" and the "ineligible volunteer files."
Roughly 20,000 pages of files, spanning from 1965 to 1985,
were released this fall by order of the Oregon Supreme Court,
after a jury in the state found the Scouts liable in a 1980s
paedophile case and ordered it to pay nearly $20 million in
Lawyers involved in the Illinois case said it is one of the
first to be filed with evidence gleaned from the massive
document release. The records released this autumn on about
1,200 "ineligible volunteers" contained a detailed dossier on
That dossier included a warning from a Scout leader in
Indiana to national officials that Hacker had been "arrested
for homosexual activity with many boys both in Scouting and
through the school in which he was teaching."
Hacker was subsequently convicted of the felony sexual
assault of a 14-year-old boy in the junior high school in
Indiana where he worked. In a letter from the national office
to the Indiana Scout council, a top official wrote: "Under no
circumstances do we want registered in Scouting," according
to the complaint.
Hacker was added on the secret "ineligible volunteer" list
the national organisation maintained, according to the
lawsuit. But a decade later when he left Indiana and moved to
Illinois and became active again in Scouting, no one
conducted a background check or ran his name against the list
of known and suspected pedophiles.
That failure, the lawsuit claims, shows the Boy Scout's
efforts to prevent paedophiles from infiltrating its ranks
"did not function as it was intended, was flawed, and in many
The Boy Scouts of America says it now requires even suspected
cases of child molestation to be reported immediately to law
enforcement and says keeping the old files secret protects
Last week, a Texas appeals court sided with the group, saying
the Scouts did not have to turn over its post-1985 files
describing sexual abuse complaints against volunteers.
"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
"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."
The BSA's Smith said that in the past 30 years the group has
added background checks and training programs, and requires
law enforcement to be told when there are "even suspicions"