BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (CN) - A southern Alabama school district knowingly employed a registered sex offender as a teacher and school bus driver for 20 years, during which time he molested 20 more children, parents of four children claim in court.
Four Jane Does and their parents sued the Shelby County Board of Education, teacher/bus driver Dan Acker, and School Board members Lee Doebler and Steve Martin, in Federal Court.
A fifth plaintif, the lead plaintiff, is Kristin Hurt, now 19. Acker has admitted molesting Hurt when she was a child. He is in prison for it. Hurt claims, and the Birmingham News reported, that Acker and others conducted a "smear campaign" against her when she was 11, and reported the abuse. The state told the school board then that Acker was an abuser, but it kept him on anyway, and he admitted last year that he went on to abuse at least 20 more children.
The complaint states: "Since 1992, Shelby County School Board and its agents have known of the Alabama Department of Human Resources's ('DHR') determination that Acker had touched a minor for the sole purpose of generating personal sexual pleasure. Since 1992, Shelby County School Board and its agents have also known that DHR had placed Acker on a central registry for sexual offenders.
"Despite this finding, Shelby County School Board and its agents failed to take any steps to remove Acker or to monitor his interaction with students to ensure that he did not sexually molest minor students in his custody.
"Acker's position as a school teacher and bus driver gave him ready access to scores of students over his nearly two decades of employment by the Shelby County School Board.
"Named plaintiffs are just a small sample of the students that Acker has confessed to molesting during his tenure in the school system."
Shelby County, pop. 200,000, just south of Birmingham, is one of the wealthiest counties in Alabama. It was 90 percent white in 2000, according to the Census Bureau. The Shelby County School Board oversees 39 public schools.
"In 2012 Danny Acker confessed to Alabaster [Alabama] police that he molested at least twenty (20) different girls for his own sexual gratification during his tenure with the Shelby County School Board," the complaint stats.
"On May 3, 2012, Danny Acker pleaded guilty to criminal charges of sexual abuse of a child less than 12, a Class B and C felonies."
Acker was sentenced in May 2012 to six 17-year terms in state prison for first-degree sexual abuse of a child and two 10-year terms for first-degree sexual abuse, the Birmingham News reported. All terms will run concurrently.
In March 2012, after Acker confessed to police but before the grand jury returned indictments, the News reported: "When schoolteacher Daniel Acker Jr. in 1992 was accused of molesting a child, churches, teachers, schools and parents rallied to his aid.
"They held pancake dinners to raise money for his defense, proclaimed his innocence on marquees, demonized the fourth-grader who accused Acker Jr. of touching her breast - and voted him, in the wake of the allegations, teacher of the year.
"Shelby County circled the wagons to fight for its own. And it won."
According to the recent lawsuit, Acker admitted sexually abusing the lead plaintiff in 1991, when she was an 11-year-old fourth grader.
The complaint contains graphic statements describing his admissions of sexually abusing other girls, 10- or 11-year-old fourth-graders.