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Netflix’s ‘Scouts Honor’: Who was Thomas Hacker?

The story of a very sick man who got away with very terrible things for way too long.

Photo Illinois Dept of Corrections via YouTube

Content advisory: This article discusses the sexual assault and abuse of children.

A new, troubling documentary about the Boy Scouts of America called Scout’s Honor: The Secret Files of the Boy Scouts of America is one of the hardest things to watch in recent memory. It features first-person accounts of abuse that children faced at the hands of scoutmasters, but even in that evil diorama there’s one name that stands out: Thomas Hacker. So who was he?

Who was Thomas Hacker from ‘Scout’s Honor’?

Thomas Hacker was a Church leader, a teacher, a scoutmaster and an admitted serial pedophile. Per the Chicago Tribune, Hacker molested hundreds of children during his tenure in the Boy Scouts for two decades until he left the organization in the 1980s.

His upbringing is just as tragic as his crimes. His father was an alcoholic who would beat his mother, and he was reportedly molested by his grandmother throughout his whole life, up until he reached his teens.

When he was 13, he “turned outside the family for care and love and, obviously, didn’t do a very good job of that,” and began his crusade of sex crimes toward young boys. He was also intelligent enough to earn a Master’s in Guidance and Psychology, and hid his condition enough to marry and become the father of three children.

Hacker had a nice career in the public sector, and worked as the Chairman of the Indianapolis Mayor’s Task Force to integrate public schools in the 1960s. He was formerly charged with assault and battery of a minor for contact with a 14-year-old boy.

He was sentenced to probation and psych evals, and later authorities would identify at least 51 more victims. Despite his arrest, he moved to Chicago and gained employment as a teacher while hiding his conviction.

After that, he was arrested again in 1973 for illegal contact with a child and moved to another school. He didn’t slow down, either. He became a Church leader in Burbank, California, and started volunteering with the Boy Scouts of America.

He was constantly surrounded by minors, and he sexually abused hundreds up until the 1980s. He was also arrested in 1976 for throwing a kid on the floor and pulling off his pants, but he also only got probation for that. It wasn’t until February of 1988 that he was finally arrested for good.

He was sentenced to 100 years for the abuse of an 11-year-old, and when asked to provide a number for the amount of victims over the years, Hacker said he “wouldn’t be able to give you a number. I mean it’s horrible to say, but there’s so many out there. In scouting alone, there were more than hundreds. Gosh, there were probably a hundred in three or four years… I was really involved with Scouts, and I had an outlet for my deviancy.”

As to how he knew he could continue to get away with his crimes despite being added as an “ineligible volunteer” in the early ’70s, he said “I knew it would be [easy to get back into scouting every time I was removed owing to a lack of background checks]. I was positive. I never even gave it a second thought.”

Hacker died in prison at 81 in 2018 after his heart failed at Big Muddy River Correctional Center in Ina, Illinois.

Jon Silman
About the author

Jon Silman

Jon Silman is a stand-up comic and hard-nosed newspaper reporter (wait, that was the old me). Now he mostly writes about Brie Larson and how the MCU is nose diving faster than that 'Black Adam' movie did. He has a Zelda tattoo (well, Link) and an insatiable love of the show 'Below Deck.'