|Daniel M. Acker Jr.|
The corrupt environment that has been at the heart of my reporting for four-plus years now has helped produce a serial child molester. That's how ugly things have gotten here in Shelby County, Alabama.
Daniel M. Acker Jr., a retired elementary-school teacher in Alabaster, has been charged with four counts of sexual abuse and is being held in the Shelby County Jail. According to press reports, Acker has confessed to molesting more than 20 girls during his 25-year career.
From Don Siegelman to Paul Minor to Julian Assange, we have reported on legal cases with national and international implications. But this blog started largely because of a blatant cheat job my wife and I experienced from a lawsuit filed against me in a property-related matter by a criminally inclined neighbor named Mike McGarity. It all took place in the Shelby County Courthouse--in the judicial hellhole of Columbiana, Alabama--where pretty much all public officials are white, conservative, Republican, and (best I can tell) corrupt.
What does the Daniel Acker Jr. case have to do with the culture of corruption that I have witnessed first hand? It has everything to do with it. In fact, an environment of white/conservative privilege wound up "enabling" a guy who had shown signs of being a child molester for roughly two decades.
Acker Jr.'s father, Daniel M. Acker Sr., is a long-time member of the Shelby County Commission. I wrote just last week about the commission, the Shelby County Sheriff's Department, and their roles in a bogus warrant on drug charges that was issued against a black minister from Montevallo.
I was not surprised that Kenneth Earl Dukes was a victim of what amounts to racial profiling in Shelby County. And I'm not surprised that Daniel M. Acker Jr.'s unsavory activities were more or less covered up for about 20 years because he has strong ties to the county's white, conservative power structure.
In announcing last week's arrest, Alabaster Deputy Police Chief Curtis Rigney said an investigation had been conducted in 1992 on molestation allegations against Acker. That resulted in no criminal charges. Reports the Shelby County Reporter:
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.
So let's review how things are done in Shelby County, Alabama. A black man, who has done nothing wrong, has a bogus warrant issued against him for drug charges. A white man who decides to write a progressive blog after witnessing rampant official corruption has the full property rights to his house stolen. (For good measure, that white man--me--is unlawfully terminated from his job at a state university after bringing corruption to public attention.) Another white man, one with strong ties to Shelby County's white/conservative power structure, is investigated for child molestation and allowed to keep his job for another 20 years or so--before finally being arrested, after confessing to the abuse of at least 21 girls.
This subject obviously hits close to home, so allow me to repeat: I was fired at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) because I write a blog that has helped expose misconduct in the political prosecution of former Democratic governor Don Siegelman. Daniel M. Acker Jr. was investigated on child-molestation charges and then allowed to keep his job.
I was fired for doing absolutely nothing wrong under any law or any rule or provision of the university where I worked. Daniel M. Acker Jr. kept his job for roughly 20 years and was only terminated after confessing to the sexual abuse of more than 20 students who were under his care.
We both were state employees, working at public institutions in the education sector. Do you sense a double standard at work in Karl Rove's Alabama?
By the way, there is no doubt that I was fired at UAB because of my reporting--on my own time, with my own resources--about the Siegelman case. A university human-resources official named Anita Bonasera admitted that in a phone conversation I tape recorded after I had been placed on administrative leave. You can listen to it here:
Audio: UAB and the Cost of Blogging About the Siegelman Case
Acker Jr.'s arrest made the front page of last Friday's Birmingham News. The story is starting to show national and international legs, with reports in The Chicago Tribune, The New York Daily News, The Washington Post, and The Daily Mail of London.
Will there still be an effort to give Acker Jr. gentle treatment for what appear to be a series of hideous crimes? I suspect the answer is yes. We certainly can expect to see an effort to limit the damage to Acker Jr. himself, with no inquiry into the official inaction that allowed him to operate as a predator for 20 years or more.
Barry Alvis now has a firm with his wife, Lara McCauley Alvis, who used to work in the Shelby County District Attorney's Office. In fact, my wife and I consulted with her (she was Lara McCauley then) before filing a criminal trespass complaint against Mike McGarity, the troublesome neighbor who had ignored repeated warnings to stay off our property.
Lara McCauley signed off on the complaint against McGarity, never bothering to tell us that Shelby County judges go easy on the accused when he is represented by a favored attorney, such as the wildly corrupt William E. Swatek. Ms. McCauley also never bothered to tell us that we could be vulnerable to a malicious prosecution lawsuit if McGarity was acquitted, even if he confessed to the crime.
And that is exactly what happened: McGarity confessed to criminal trespass (we have the trial transcript to prove it), was acquitted, and proceeded to sue me, the victim of his crime.
Lara McCauley Alvis played a prominent role in the cheat job I have experienced. Now she and her hubby, Barry Alvis, are representing a man who has confessed to molesting at least 21 girls. I've learned this about Shelby County Courts: Just because a defendant confesses to a crime, it does not mean he will be found guilty.
Daniel M. Acker Jr. could not have chosen a more "connected" criminal-defense law firm in Shelby County. Thanks to that firm's ties to Lindsey Allison and other power brokers, I strongly doubt that true justice ever will be served in a monstrous case of child sexual abuse.
Here's the big question hanging over the Acker case: True justice likely will come only in the civil arena. Will the victims and their families be able to find an Alabama lawyer who is willing to sue the Shelby County sleaze balls who allowed this to happen? If so, what will the discovery process reveal about the widespread official corruption that has a grip on this conservative, "family values" stronghold?