Something is very wrong in the Land of Cotton



Dr. Robert Bullard
Environmental Justice Movement Founder

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Alabama Mantra? - "No Child Left Unharmed"

Update May 3, 2012 - Acker sentenced to 17 yrs in prison without parole.

An alarming trend is emerging in Alabama and revealing the disturbing patterns with some of the state's school boards. Despite the rudimentary obligation these boards are responsible for upholding, protect the children first, they're emerging as the biggest clear and present danger to Alabama’s schoolchildren.

The case of Daniel Acker, Jr. an admitted serial molester & teacher from the Shelby County area of Alabaster, bears an eerie Sandusky-esque parallel with every revelation that's emerging in the explosive case. Like Sandusky, red flags flew up about Acker years before the real story blew up and charges ensued. No one did anything to stop either of these predatory men even though they knew something was very wrong. Those that could have stopped it, chose instead to ignore the truth - that monsters were in the making with Sandusky and Acker.

The end result is the entirely preventable ruination of dozens of children’s lives.

Forty-nine-year-old Daniel Acker, Jr. started with the Shelby County school system in 1985. He taught 4th grade children for 24 years, retiring in 2009. What transpired in those two decades can accurately be described as the end of innocence for his young victims.

Acker has recently admitted molesting 20-25 children, but the full tally of his victims may climb higher as new developments and additional victims emerge in the case.

The facade of years of denial (and culpability) that surrounded Acker until last week, was like some perverted cloak of protection. It finally fell last week when a girl, now 12, accused Acker of molesting her around 2009. 

This child, and so many more, might not have been a victim if the same local school board had acted way back in 1992 when the first accuser against Acker came forward.

The local community and school board’s response to the testimony of Acker’s first known victim, an 11 year-old girl, described by people who knew her as “a beautiful child from a good family,” was to turn their backs on the child and rally around the predator.

School superintendent Norma Rogers, was the lone voice of ‘I believe you’ on that school board in the early 1990s. At the time, she recommended firing Acker from his position after “listening to the compelling testimony of the child and her mother.” Hiding behind the decision of a local grand jury, the Shelby County Board of Education (SCBOE), after a lengthy and heated behind closed doors meeting, refused to fire Acker citing a “lack of evidence."

After the accusation was made, an attorney currently representing one of Acker’s numerous victims, in addition to Ms. Rogers, claim that a test paper was sent home with the girl that had a note written on it “referencing the child’s underclothing.” Another source gives a slightly different account and states that Acker had placed actual test questions “about the color of the victim’s underwear" on the exam.

The school board and the grand jury both saw that paper and what Acker had written. 

Two of the school board members who “protected Acker” are still on the board today - Lee Doebler (Pres.) and Steve Martin (VP).  Martin’s statement on the 1992 accusation:
“We had no legal authority back then than to terminate or not terminate, and there wasn’t enough physical evidence to the best of my recollection.”
According to the most recent story in the case, published today in the Birmingham News, the child’s family was forced to “move out of the county” after being ostracized and derided by the Acker family, their church and most of the local community, who were staunch defenders of “the good name of the Acker family.”

Daniel Acker, Sr. is a powerful man who has been on the Shelby County Commission for years. The Alabaster Police Department claims that "Acker’s position did not help his son evade accountability," but anyone who lives in Shelby County is well aware of the overbearing power and nepotism that exists within the Shelby County Commission.

If there’s one county in Alabama that wields the biggest influence statewide it’s the power structure in Columbiana, Alabama.  ALEC’s state chairman even hails from the county – Representative Mary Sue McClurkin. The power brokers believe they are untouchable and they walk around with a self-assured strut of arrogance that's hard to miss. 

Has the county gone too far this time? We hope so.

The ‘monster of Alabaster’ and his evil deeds may prove to be the veil lifter of many wide-open, but hidden in plain sight secrets that define the county's modus operendi.

A source in the community, who lived in Alabaster when the first accusation came out, tells us that the local church put the following bible verse on their outside sign as a warning to the girl’s family:
“A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who breathes out lies will not escape.”
That church went on to hold a fundraiser for the Acker family anticipating legal costs if the grand jury voted to indict Acker, Jr. Our source also tells us that allegedly a full court press by Acker’s father shut down the investigation as soon as it started.

Acker, Sr. was serving as an Alabaster City Council member at the time of the first accusation, and he had his sights set on a future county commission seat in 1992. We imagine, in his mind, a child molesting son would have been a huge impediment to any future political plans, and the reality of what his son was had to remain hidden.

Not much of notoriety goes on in Shelby County that someone doesn’t know about on some level -children talk, colleagues talk. Parents have been whispering about Acker for years. Why wouldn’t the adults, who could have stopped Acker, ever admit to themselves ‘he’s spending a lot of time with those young girls and it’s not in a professional sense?’

Acker still stubbornly stands by his son today, refuses to resign and continues to claim he “didn’t know” about his son's decades-long twisted proclivities. Their local church is trying in vain to stem the rising tide of public rage by publicly expressing “regret for our actions back then.”

No one’s buying the litany of excuses pouring out of the enabler’s mouths today. What people see is a “Penn State south’ in the making, and just like in the Sandusky case, the groundswell of righteous anger is rapidly spreading outside of the county.

In our opinions, everyone involved with the cover up of these horrible crimes is equally complicit should be held harshly accountable. Some of those same individuals are adding insult to grievous injury by refusing questions and actively participating in a second cover up of trying to make the whole ordeal go away.

These ‘officials who wouldn’t’ continue to cling to their perceived entitlement to remain employed in profitable power positions on the county commission and school board. 

Shelby County Schools creed is "where the learning never ends." We suggest a quick re-write to go along with a couple of resignations on the school board.

The inability of Alabama school boards to act when they are aware of a predator in their midst isn't confined to Shelby County - there's similar scenario going on right now in Tuscaloosa, Alabama:
TUSCALOOSA COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT) - In a civil suit filed in federal court, a West Alabama administrator has been accused of sexual misconduct with a former female student.  The student's attorney, Paul Patterson, says the woman was a sophomore at Tuscaloosa County High School when the inappropriate behavior began.  He says the behavior continued and intensified throughout the remainder of the girl's high school career.  The suit also names several Tuscaloosa County Schools employees, including the Board of Education, for failing to take action after the student allegedly approached the school's principals to complain.
Abuse of children can take other forms besides sexual. There are thousands of Alabama schoolchildren live with another known well-known threat every day – toxic exposure.

In a previous article, we detailed who knew what and when they knew it about the Walter Energy contamination in Jefferson County. Minority children in the north Birmingham area of Collegeville have been suffering for years from the inaction of their school board, the county, the state and Region 4 EPA to protect them from the dangerous by-products of big business in their classrooms and on their playgrounds.

The “Deadly Deception” in north Birmingham might not grab the salacious headlines that the Sandusky and Acker’s of the world get, but the parents of children who get sick with cancers are no less horrified by the suffering of their own children. Especially when they realize people knew and did nothing about it until years later.

The pervasive theme that runs through all of these stories is the glaring inability by local school boards, and authoritative officials to adequately protect the children under their purview from clear and present dangers. One incident of failure to act might be chalked up to a tragic oversight – two may show a blatant disregard for a basic duty to adequately protect children from any form of abuse.

More than that indicates there’s a deeper, more widespread systemic problem going on in the state. A sinister pattern of serial abuse indicating the wanton willingness of Alabama to leave its children behind, and go down the road of ‘no child left unharmed’ in pursuit of elected power, profit and public perceptions.

*Update - Doebler and Martin are facing challengers for their seats! Acker, Sr. will remain unopposed.
Photo credit child:: Daly
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  1. There's NO WAY the county is going to get away with this one! You wouldn't believe how angry the community is about it! Come see for yourselves!

  2. Alabaster has a lot of super nice people who'll do anything to help somebody in need. Problem is if you run afoul of certain churches, people and their families watch out. It gets ugly real fast.
    Judge on this case is the crooked Conwill. If he does what he usually does and rules in favor of his friends this community could literally come apart.
    None of us have much patience for protecting Acker any more than the politiicans and school board already have!

  3. I feel so sorry for all the children Daniel Acker was allowed to molest unchecked thanks to the Lee Doebler and the school board.
    Have you see that guy? He even looks like a perv himself. None of them gave one damn about anything but their own hides and what Poppa Acker wanted!!!!!!!

  4. Have you noticed the news is full of stories involving child molestation lately in Alabama? What is it about this state that draws these creeps? Lax laws, high human trafficking statistics or just plain evil? Maybe all three?
    It makes me sick when I read articles about child predators.
    It makes me sicker to see them protected for political reasons.

  5. No surprise why there's so many mean people in Alabama. Most go to church. Baptist churches. Look how this one acted. Shameful doesn't quite do it justice.
    Putting a bible verse on your church sign to intimidate a little girl for trying to tell someone she needed help from a molester? That's a new low even for Shelby County.

  6. "There wasn't enough evidence to fire him"
    What did the school board and grand jury think was enough proof?
    They didn't believe a child. Scratch that. Children, because there was more than one.
    Didn't believe a really strange test paper.
    Didn't follow the lead of the school board pres at the time.
    No one thought anything was strange about a grown man hanging out with kids all the time.
    Parents said they didn't know, church didn't know, etc. etc.
    Liars every one of them.
    It's not at all plausible that this creep did all these things for years on end and no one knew.

  7. December 2011 - 2 people, one a female & former teacher in a Danville elementary school and the other a member of the USAF were convicted of sexually abusing a thirteen yr old boy and his 14 yr old sister.
    They kept the teacher on the payroll for three years AFTER she was put on administrative leave.
    The girl attempted suicide after the incident because of the trauma and her brother wanting to have sex with her all the time after the abuse.
    The male offender not only committed rape on the girl, he sodomized the boy.
    The female teacher was allowed to stay on the dole because of stupid state law.
    That law has since been changed.
    Just like the lives of those two kids.

  8. Alabama 13 News has an update on Acker

    Right now, 49 year old Daniel Acker, Jr. is facing claims he sexually abused his students for two decades.

    Most recently he's been charged with violating an eleven year old girl in 1991.

    About 20 years ago, the same claim was presented to the Shelby County Grand Jury.

    The panel did not indict him, and, he was never charged.

    Alabaster Police now say Acker, Jr. has confessed, to not only that incident, but, nearly two dozen others since then.

    Dennis Jacobs was the Chief Assistant District Attorney for Shelby County in 1992 and clearly remembers Acker, Jr. case.

    “Everyone knew of it because who Mr. Acker was and who his father was. Who I believe at the time was one of our county commissioners,” Jacobs recalled.

    Everyone, apparently, except Dennis Jacobs' former boss, then-District Attorney Mike Campbell.

    Campbell told me off-camera Wednesday that he didn't recall that 1992 case against, Acker, Jr.

    “I find that hard to believe that anybody associated with our office could not remember that.

    Because i remember it, and I was tangentially involved,” Jacobs said.

    So who was responsible for presenting Acker, Jr.’s case to the grand jury in 1992?

    Who should answer questions about how Acker, Jr.’s original prosecution was handled?

    Jacobs said, back in 1992, he typically presented all the grand jury cases.

    He claims Acker, Jr.’s was not one of them.

    “That means that I got overruled by somebody and I since I was the Chief Assistant there was only one that could do that and that would have been Mr. Campbell himself,” Jacobs pointed out.

    Jacobs said he does not know what kind of evidence was presented to the grand jury in 1992.

    However, he feels the District Attorney's Office, in which he worked, let people down.

    “Maybe if a more thorough investigation had been done, more efforts had been put into the presentation then maybe Mr. Acker could have been held accountable 20 years ago and those kids who suffered the trauma since then would not have, and that just makes me sick,” Jacobs concluded.

    Acker, Jr.’s father took office as a Shelby County Commissioner in November 1992, according to the Shelby County Manager’s office.

    That is the same month the case was presented to the grand jury.

    I think I am going to be ill.

  9. “That means that I got overruled by somebody and I since I was the Chief Assistant there was only one that could do that and that would have been Mr. Campbell himself,” Jacobs pointed out.

    COVER UP!!!!!!!


  10. The whole commission is running for re-election as incumbents. Most of the elected people in the county are running as incumbents.
    No one dares to challenege any of them. That's how people like Daniel Acker get away crimes. Anyone who wants to do things differently never gets a chance. It's time for new blood.

  11. Daniel Acker and Lee Doebler have no business running for office after what's happened.

  12. Today seems to be a good day to respond ... with a MLK quote:
    “Never, never be afraid to do what's right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society's punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.”
    ― Martin Luther King Jr.

    Those despicable things that hurt children, animals, and the elderly, have no place in society. And those that hide or turn away are just as horrible. There is hope that Mr. Acker does not get leniency just because he confessed. Its time for more than a challenge, its time for retribution. This had not be a time that the Scales of Justice is blind - its a time for for the Justice to be swift and painful, and very long lasting for that very sick thing. Prayers to every child and parent that was affected and inflicted by that sick sick person and those that turned a blind eye to his actions.

    1. SW--

      Thank you Canyon Lake. What do you think of the blind devotion to a cause that had no basis in reality from those who 'helped' Mr. Acker in his evil deeds?

      Perhaps his protectors had their own twisted and wicked agenda like some do right?


    2. Winger, I am not sure what blind devotion to a cause has to do with child abuse - but, his protectors that managed to hide and deceive the public for twenty years, now has to answer to the public and those children. Its a very sick thing, a very sad thing, and unfortunately, widespread. It shows how unwilling the County Commissioners, the DA and even, DHR were to do their job and protect even the smallest of the citizens.

      One can hope that as time goes on, and the world keeps getting smaller, those that hide and lurk doing evil things, will lose their place. This was an excellent and well-written article - its sad that had to be written, and even sadder, that it hit so close to home for all those in Shelby County.

  13. Shelby County wants it to all go away.
    It won't.
    People are really very angry about what's happened.

  14. Have you seen the comments on John Archibald's story? Lee Doebler, or somoene claiming he's Lee, made an appearance in the forum and if I was him, I wouldn't be so arrogant and taunting about the whole sordid ordeal.
    Then again look at how many who were involved in the incident who are running for re-election. No shame among these creeps.

  15. Interesting blog, I admire people who get into politics to defend the enviroment and hold those in power accountable.

    Im a bit of a skeptic, however, especiallyl when the other side is painted as some vile evil monster. No matter what the topic, when I learn about some issue deeply, usually the other side is NOT some monster, and may even be innocent.

    The thing we need, I think, is openness. In politics, so much of what matters goes on in private behind closed doors. Lobbying for example. That's all done without anyone being able to review it, or know whats what.

    When my lawyer represents me in some legal matter, for example, he of course has to show me everything about my case. Any offers for settlement, for example, any documents he gets or files in my name, anything. Any letters from opposing counsel, I can see. Any reports. After all, he is there IN MY PLACE. He "represents" me. He IS me, in a a sense.

    But in politics, we don't get to see ANYTHING except the staged nonsense of photo ops, press releases, and an occassional speech on Cpan. What offers my rep is getting, I don't know. What lobbyist are offering him, asking him, telling him, I don't know. It's almost opposite of what my legal representation is --where I have right to know anything going on related to my case.

    Yes, I know it's silly, but as long as men are so easily corruptable -- and we are -- they will be corrupted by the power and wealth offered to them by those seeking favor. It's just human nature.

    Over and over again we find another crook, or another person who enriched themselves at public expense, and we think it's that person is bad, get rid of him, and that fixes it. No, the next guy is almost always as bad, if not worse.

    Yes, there are some -- in both parties -- that resist temptation. But they are rare. We need to get openness in the sytem. Not pretend consmetic openness, but real openness. People can be real honest when they know others are watching. Amazing how easy it is to go under speed limit when there is a cop right behind you.


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