Settlement: Acker Jr. to pay victims $1.5 million

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

BIRMINGHAM – A former Alabaster teacher who pleaded guilty in 2012 to sexually abusing more than 20 underage girls during his teaching tenure will pay several victims a total of $1.5 million through a settlement reached in U.S. District Court in Birmingham.

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 retired from teaching in May 2009, and was Acker was employed as a substitute bus driver with Shelby County Schools as recently as a week prior to his arrest on Jan. 4, 2012.

The lawsuit claimed 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.

The case originally was set to go to trial on April 3, but the plaintiffs reached an out-of-court settlement with the past and present members of the Shelby County Board of Education, the conditions of which have not been made public.

In a separate in-court settlement between Acker Jr. and the victims, Acker Jr. agreed to pay the victims a total of $1.5 million in consent judgment in exchange for dropping their lawsuit against him.

Two of the plaintiffs in the case are still juveniles, and were represented by their parents in the court proceedings. The parents waived any claims to the settlement money.

Six of the seven victims in the case will receive 12.5 percent of the settlement money, while one of the victims will receive 25 percent.

According to the settlement, the claims in the lawsuit against Acker arose from his sexual abuse of the victims while the victims were students in his classroom and passengers on his school bus route.

Following the pair of settlements, U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Hopkins dismissed the lawsuit on March 21.