Acker’s 1991 victim ‘vindicated’ after plea

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

When Kristin Hurt heard the word “guilty” exit 49-year-old Daniel Acker Jr.’s mouth during a May 3 hearing at the Shelby County Courthouse, a surreal feeling came over her.

Hurt

“I finally feel vindicated,” Hurt said after the hearing. “I feel vindicated for all the girls.”

“She doesn’t have to look over her shoulder anymore,” said Hurt’s mother, Linda Lopez. “He kept showing up where she was working.”

When St. Clair County Presiding Judge James Hill Jr., who handled Acker’s case after all the Shelby County judges recused themselves from the case, accepted Acker’s guilty plea and sentenced him to serve 17 years behind bars, it helped to ease the torment Hurt has been dealing with for more than 20 years.

In addition to seven other sexual abuse charges Acker pleaded guilty to during the hearing, Acker admitted he had traveled to Hurt’s house when her mother was not home in 1991 and fondled the 11-year-old student on the family’s couch.

Lopez reported the incident to authorities shortly after it occurred, but a Shelby County grand jury did not bring any charges against Acker. During the May 3 hearing, prosecuting District Attorney Richard Minor said Acker recently admitted he lied during the 1991 investigation.

“He admitted that statements he made during that investigation were lies,” Minor said during the hearing.

After the grand jury failed to bring charges against Acker in 1991, Lopez said her family eventually had to leave the county to escape the lingering effects of the incident.

“Even going to another school in Shelby County wasn’t enough. We had to leave the county,” Lopez said.

The Alabaster Police Department contacted Hurt in early 2012 and notified her of the department’s investigation of Acker. When police contacted her, Hurt – now in her 30s – said her “heart about jumped out of (her) chest.”

“I felt sad because it had happened again,” Hurt said. “I wish something could have been done 20 years ago to stop this from happening.”

Hurt said she still has not fully recovered from the incident, and said it has been affecting her life for the past two decades.

“I hope I will be more relaxed now,” Hurt said, noting she now has a 6-year-old daughter and a 13-year-old stepson. “I was scared to have a girl because of everything I went through.

“Trust your parents. Talk to them,” Hurt said, when asked what advice she would give to young girls today. “They are your world, and they will listen.”