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Girl Says Boys & Girls Club Hired Molester

CHICAGO (CN) - A teen-age girl claims in court that the Boys and Girls Club hired a man with 21 arrests who served time for armed robbery, and he abused his position to have sex with her and photograph her naked, and paid her to take photos of him having sex with other women.

J.V. sued the Boys and Girls Clubs of America (BGA), Boys and Girls Clubs of Chicago (BGC) and Zale Hoddenbach in Cook County Court.

J.V. claims she met Hoddenbach when she was in 7th grade and he was a representative of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Chicago.

Hoddenbach "made presentations to the students about the danger of drugs and gangs," and organized after-school activities, the girl says.

Unbeknownst to the students, Hoddenbach was also "a violent convicted felon, having served prison sentences for theft, aggravated battery, residential burglary and armed robbery. He has been arrested at least 21 times," according to the complaint.

When she was 16 years old, J.V. says, she "went to see Hoddenbach about getting a job. ... Hoddenbach told plaintiff he could find her something like a park district job, but she could make a lot more money taking pictures of couples having sex - about $200 for each session - and lingerie modeling.

"Plaintiff expressed misgivings about such work but finally agreed to try it after Hoddenbach said other girls had enjoyed it and based on her trust in his connection with the BGC."

The complaint continues: "Shortly thereafter, Hoddenback took plaintiff to a private residence where he had her take pictures of him having sex with another woman; then Hoddenbach took pictures of plaintiff touching the woman, telling plaintiff she would make even more money by doing so.

"Following the first episode described above, on at least 3 occasions, Hoddenbach took plaintiff to the Sybaris motel where he had sex with her, took pictures of her in the nude and, on one occasion, in or about August 2011, called a male friend to participate."

Hoddenbach was 42 at the time, J.V. says.

The Boys and Girls Clubs of America "serve(s) nearly 4 million young people ... in some 4,000 Club facilities and its Clubs are led by paid, trained youth development professionals," according to the organization's website, quoted in the complaint.

The complaint quotes Les Nichols, vice president of BGA, as saying in 2012 that that "'as an organization that serves children, background screening is absolutely critical to Boys and Girls Clubs. ... We mandate screening for all volunteers and employees who work directly with children to maximize their protection and safety, our highest priority.'"

J.V. says that BGA had a duty "to ensure that they had in place hiring procedures and background checks to prevent unfit individuals like Hoddenbach from working as agents, employees, or representatives; individuals with extensive criminal histories who would and, in Hoddenbach's case did, use the Logan Square club as a recruitment center for predatory, illegal conduct."

She seeks damages for negligent failure to supervise, negligent hiring and retention, and emotional distress.

She is represented by Steven Rosenberg.

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