Police: Teacher molested kids in class

Curtis Rigney, Deputy Chief of the Alabaster Police Department, addresses the media during a press conference on Jan. 5. (Reporter Photo/Jon Goering)

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

ALABASTER— Alabaster police said a former school teacher has admitted to sexually abusing at least 21 girls at various Alabaster schools over a 25-year period, including at least one incident in a classroom in front of other students.

Alabaster Deputy Police Chief Curtis Rigney announced the arrest of Daniel Montague Acker Jr., 49, during a press conference Jan. 5. Acker has been charged with three counts of felony first-degree sexual abuse.

 

Daniel Montague Acker, Jr.

The three charges are related to three separate incidents involving one former student three years ago, Rigney said. “At least one incident” happened in a classroom in front of other children, Rigney said. Rigney said the most recent incident happened when the female was in fourth grade at Thompson Intermediate School in 2009.

The charges came after the former student came forward to police last week, Rigney said. Rigney said Acker was arrested at the Alabaster Police Department after he came in to talk with detectives. The female is now between 12 and 13 years old.

“It’s despicable,” Rigney said. “It’s terrible. It did affect her emotionally for a long time.”

Rigney said Acker, who is the son of Shelby County Commissioner Dan Acker Sr., admitted to molesting more than 20 other students during his teacher career in Alabaster.

“We anticipate more charges in the future,” Rigney said. “We will continue our investigation until we are satisfied every child contacted by this man has had a chance to tell their story. Hopefully we won’t have as many victims as we are planning on.”

Acker, who retired in May 2009, was a substitute bus driver with Shelby County Schools and drove a bus as recently as this week, Rigney said. Acker, an Alabaster resident, is married with children, Rigney said.

Rigney said detectives have spoken with Shelby County School system administrators about the incident and have received assistance from the administrators.

“They were shocked and are assisting us with our investigation,” Rigney said. “They have been extremely helpful.”

Shelby County Schools Superintendent Randy Fuller called the allegations against Acker “shocking,” and said he had notified the state superintendent of education about the situation.

“We, as a school district, understand that child abuse is horrible with devastating consequences to victims and their families,” Fuller wrote in a prepared statement. “We understand that these allegations will be very troubling to anyone who might have a past association with the accused individual.”

Rigney said a “similar investigation” was conducted by the Shelby County Sheriff’s Department in 1992, but no indictments were issued as a result.

In October 1992, Acker was placed on leave by the Shelby County School System and relieved of his teaching duties while allegations of child abuse were under investigation. In November 1992, the accusations against Acker were presented to a Shelby County grand jury, which did not indict him.

On Feb. 8, 1993 the Shelby County Board of Education held a termination hearing against Acker. After a lengthy hearing to consider the evidence in the case against Acker, the board voted unanimously not to terminate him. Acker was then reinstated as a fourth-grade teacher at CVES.

Acker taught from 1985 until 1991 at Thompson Elementary School, which was on Alabama 119 where TIS is today. From 1991 until 2000, Acker taught at Creekview Elementary School. From 2000 until May 2009, Acker taught at Thompson Intermediate School. He retired as a full-time teacher in May 2009, Rigney said. Rigney said Acker taught fourth grade for a majority of his teaching career.

According to Alabama law, first-degree sexual abuse is a Class C felony. Acker currently is being held in the Shelby County Jail on bonds totaling $45,000.

“We’ve still got a lot to figure out,” Rigney said. “We’ve still got a long way to go.”