Trial date set in lawsuit against Acker Jr., school board

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

BIRMINGHAM – A lawsuit against a longtime former Alabaster teacher who pleaded guilty in 2012 to sexually abusing more than 20 girls during his teaching tenure is set to go to trial in early April, according to United States District Court documents.

On Feb. 1, U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Hopkins issued an order setting the lawsuit for jury trial beginning on Monday, April 3, in the Hugo Black United States Courthouse in Birmingham. Once the trial begins, it likely will last three weeks, according to Hopkins. Court will not be held on April 20-21.

The lawsuit was brought in February 2013 against Daniel Acker Jr. and past and present members of the Shelby County Board of Education by one of Acker’s former students, Kristin Hurt, and six other unnamed plaintiffs. Acker was sentenced to 17 years in prison in May 2012 after he pleaded guilty to eight counts of sexually abusing underage girls 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.

The lawsuit claims the “defendants failed to meet their obligations to protect Shelby County’s county school children,” and claimed “Acker’s position as a school teacher and a bus driver gave him ready access to scores of students over his nearly two decades of employment by the Shelby County School Board.”

After Hurt’s mother reported Acker sexually abused Hurt in 1991, Acker was placed on leave from Creek View Elementary, and a grand jury did not indict him on the charge.

In their motions, the School Board, Doebler and Martin claimed those who were serving on the board in 1991 made their decision to allow Acker to continue teaching based on evidence and testimony presented during a “lengthy hearing” in 1993.

Their motions also claim the victims Acker pleaded guilty to molesting between the 1993 hearing and his 2012 arrest did not notify any school system officials who had the authority to take disciplinary actions against Acker.