Weather Updates

Suit filed against ex-counselor charged with sexual assaulting minor

A Chicago teen filed a $200,000 lawsuit Wednesday against the Boys and Girls Clubs organization, claiming it never should have hired a felon who now faces criminal charges for having a sexual relationship with her.

The woman, now 18, also is suing ex-counselor Zale Hoddenbach. In October, 2011, Hoddenbach was charged with sexually assaulting a minor.

The teen accuses Hoddenbach in the suit of using his office at a Logan Square neighborhood Boys and Girls club as a “recruitment center for predatory, illegal conduct.”

The then 15-year-old girl met Hoddenbach in 2010 seeking job advice, according to prosecutors and the lawsuit. Instead the father of five allegedly suggested she make money modeling lingerie and taking pictures of couples having sex.

Hoddenbach allegedly took her to a Chicago residence where he had her take pictures of him and another woman having sex, assistant state’s attorney Jennifer Dillman said at his bond hearing.

The girl also allegedly had shots of her taken while she was engaged in sexual activity with the other woman, Dillman said. Hoddenbach allegedly paid the girl $200 and continued to have a sexual relationship with the teenager for several months.

In the suit, the teen claims the organization never should have hired him because of his violent criminal history and failed to properly supervise him.

At his bond hearing last year, Hoddenbach’s attorney, Dennis Doherty, said the former gang member had turned his life around and became a “dynamic” anti-violence advocate to youth.

Hoddenbach also previously worked as a CeaseFire interrupter, and was featured in a 2008 New York Times magazine story about gang violence.

Doherty said the victim “presented” herself as being 18 and called the criminal charges a “blackmail case.”

The four-count suit claims negligent hiring against the Chicago-area Boys and Girls Club, and negligent supervision against the nonprofit’s Chicago and national offices. Spokespersons could not be reached for comment Wednesday night.

© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit To order a reprint of this article, click here.