The Chicago Public School system is one of the worst big city school systems in America and this story doesn’t help its reputation one bit.
According to an extensive report by the Chicago Tribune, the CPS gave a pedophile repeated “second chances” despite the fact that he proudly admitted molesting “hundreds of children” between the 1960s and 1980s.
The employee, a teacher named Thomas Hacker, said he molested boys by exploiting his power as a leader in the Boy Scouts, the Catholic Church, the Chicago Park District, and the Chicago Public School System.
Hacker has since passed away while a prisoner being punished for his crimes. He died of heart failure in June at age 81 while serving time at Big Muddy Correctional Center.
But upon his death, the Chicago Tribune looked into his history and found that the CPS had employed this man for years despite his history.
Using Hacker’s own testimony in depositions he gave at Big Muddy, additional public records and personnel files obtained through a source, the Tribune pieced together the first full picture of how Hacker found a job at CPS in 1970 despite a criminal record and remained a teacher for a decade even after red flags emerged about his behavior. Hacker himself described not just his compulsion and rituals, but also the second chances he was given.
Indeed, Hacker wasn’t fired even after a CPS school child came forward and accused the man of sexually molesting him.
According to the Tribune, Hacker’s only punishment was that the school “watched him.” As Hacker noted, a school administrator told him “he’ll give me the benefit of the doubt but he would watch me pretty carefully.”
In fact, the CPS hired Hacker even after he already had a conviction for child molestation.
He was hired as a CPS teacher three months after his Indiana conviction for sexually molesting a 14-year-old boy, according to records reviewed by the Tribune, including police and school documents and Hacker’s own court testimony. There’s no indication anyone in the school district knew about Hacker’s conviction in the neighboring state.
And he was even convicted while a CPS teacher:
While employed by CPS at two South Side elementary schools, Hacker also was convicted twice for sexually abusing suburban boys he mentored through scouting and church activities — first in 1971 in Mount Prospect and then five years later in Oak Lawn. Those suburban child sex abuse convictions did not interrupt Hacker’s CPS teaching career, nor did abuse reports within CPS, the Tribune found.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.