Former Alabama teacher faces second sex abuse charge

Posted Jan. 06, 2012, at 8:20 p.m.

ALABASTER, Ala. — A longtime Alabama schoolteacher accused of sexually abusing a fourth-grader has been charged with molesting a second female student.

Danny Acker was charged Friday with an additional count of first-degree sexual abuse. He was arrested Thursday on allegations he molested a student before retiring in 2009.

Police said he then confessed to molesting more than 20 girls over a long teaching career.

The first girl to make the allegations is now 12 or 13. She accused Acker of molesting her around 2009, when he was a teacher at Thompson Intermediate School.

Acker taught fourth grade at three schools and drove buses in the Shelby County school system from 1985 until he retired in 2009. He remained on the school payroll as a substitute bus driver until this week, police said. He was investigated on similar allegations in 1992, but grand jurors did not return an indictment.

Acker’s arrest stunned the Birmingham suburb of 28,000, where he was well-known and well-liked by kids.

Illinois Lottery apologizes to winners for bounced checks

CHICAGO — The Illinois Lottery is apologizing to dozens of winners who picked up checks for their winnings, mostly for scratch-off tickets worth $1,000, last week, only to find the Lottery’s bank wouldn’t cover the checks.

Of 311 checks written on Dec. 28, the Lottery’s bank failed to authorize payment to “about 85,” when a computer file that is supposed to be sent to the bank at 2 p.m. every day wasn’t sent in time, said Lottery spokesman Mike Lang. The Lottery was short-staffed because of the holidays, causing the file to be sent late, he said.

“We had some checks that, from the consumer’s, the player’s perspective, bounced, and we’re making it right,” Lang said.

Anyone who wins more than $600 can go to one of several check-issuing offices throughout the state, Lang said. The affected checks, about $159,000 worth, were mostly winners of $1,000, with the largest prize affected being $9,500, Lang said.

8 Western troops die in 24 hours in southern Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan — Eight members of the NATO force were killed in southern Afghanistan in a 24-hour period ending Friday, Western military officials said.

NATO’s International Security Assistance Force did not disclose the troops’ nationalities, but the majority of those serving in southern Afghanistan are American or British. The south of Afghanistan includes the volatile provinces of Helmand and Kandahar, the traditional heartland of the Taliban.

Four of the eight were killed Friday in a single explosion, the military said in a statement, and a fifth died earlier as the result of an “insurgent attack,” a phrase often used to characterize a firefight with Taliban militants.

U.S. troop fatalities fell in 2011 for the first time in four years, and overall NATO deaths dropped as well. About 10,000 American troops left Afghanistan in the latter part of last year, and 23,000 more are to depart by the end of this year.

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