Deadlines extended on Acker Jr. lawsuit

A lawsuit brought against former Alabaster teacher Daniel Acker Jr., pictured, likely will not move forward until 2015 . (File)

A lawsuit brought against former Alabaster teacher Daniel Acker Jr., pictured, likely will not move forward until 2015 . (File)

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

BIRMINGHAM – A federal judge has agreed to delay filing deadlines on a lawsuit brought against a former Alabaster teacher who pleaded guilty in 2012 to sexually abusing girls during his teaching tenure, according to court documents.

The civil lawsuit was filed in 2013 by Jon Goldfarb, Daniel Arciniegas and L. William Smith of the Birmingham-based Wiggins, Childs, Quinn and Pantazis law firm on behalf of Kristin Hurt and four other unnamed plaintiffs.

The lawsuit was filed against Daniel Acker Jr., the Shelby County Board of Education and former School Board members Lee Doebler and Steve Martin. Acker was sentenced to 17 years in prison in May 2012 after he pleaded guilty to eight counts of sexually abusing underage girls, including Hurt, during his more than 20-year teaching tenure in Alabaster.

Acker, who currently is in prison, taught at Thompson Elementary School, Creek View Elementary School and TIS, and was a school bus driver during his teaching tenure in Alabaster.

Shortly after Hurt and the other three plaintiffs filed the lawsuit against Acker, the Shelby County Board of Education, former School Board member Doebler and current School Board member Martin filed court documents claiming the claims brought against them in the lawsuit are “barred by state and federal immunity.”

As a result of U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Emerson’s July 28 order to extend the deadlines, attorneys on both sides now have until Aug. 3, 2015, to gather information on the case before the lawsuit moves forward. The deadline extension was agreed upon by attorneys on both sides.

“Additional time is being afforded given the complexity and broad time period involved in this case,” Arciniegas wrote in an email.

The Wiggins, Childs, Quinn and Pantazis law firm has requested class action status for the lawsuit, and is seeking “Any current or former female student during the time period that Dan Acker (Jr.) worked for (the) Shelby County School Board who was either injured, sexually harassed, abused or molested by Dan Acker (Jr.), or who witnessed such conduct or who was exposed to a sexually hostile education environment through Acker’s conduct.”

“Anybody with information they think can help can contact us. We are actively following up on any leads,” Arciniegas wrote.