Dennis Hastert Is Facing 'Credible' Sex Abuse Accusations From At Least 4, Report Says
By Rachel Cromidas in News on Apr 7, 2016 4:16PM
It's long been assumed that when U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert, 74, was a high school teacher and wrestling coach in Yorkville, Illinois, he was also secretly sexually abusing teenage boys. Hastert has already pled guilty in court to paying "hush money" to one presumed victim, payments that prompted federal authorities to flag Hastert for bank fraud. Now, a Tribune report says that federal law enforcers have heard "credible" sex abuse allegations against Hastert from at least four people.
The Tribune says at least three of them are men who met Hastert when he served as their high school wrestling coach. One is dead, but the other two—identified in federal court records only as Individual A and Individual D—confirmed their identities with Tribune reporters. Individual A received $1.7 million in so-called hush-money from Hastert and is key to Hastert's federal indictment; Individual D will reportedly speak at Hastert's April 27 sentencing.
The Tribune does not name the individuals who are still alive, but the man who died, Stephen Reinboldt, reportedly met Hastert while serving as wrestling team equipment manager in the 1960s. Reinboldt's sister, Jolene Burdge, has long spoken out about Hastert's behavior and its effect on her brother. Hastert, the longest running Republican house speaker, is not facing sexual abuse charges, but he has pled guilty to charges of bank fraud, committed to cover up money given to Individual A in exchange for his silence years ago.
The Tribune details what happened to Individual A: a relative of one of Hastert's friends, he is now middle-aged, married and a father. Hastert coached him in the '70s and served as a reference for Individual A after he graduated from college and started applying for jobs in the mid-'80s. He suffered from an anxiety disorder that led him to struggle with employment and debt. "Court records show [Individual A] had significant financial problems," the report says. He also once pled guilty to misdemeanor drunk driving. After losing another job in 2011, Individual A began receiving payments from Hastert.
Individual D was a successful student and athlete who is now a husband, a father and a businessman. Last month, in an unannounced court hearing, U.S. District Judge Thomas Durkin first said publicly that the case involved allegations of sexual abuse and that Individual D might read a statement detailing the impact Hastert's actions have had on him. Apparently it was hard for Individual D to decide whether to testify; however, he called federal authorities after learning that Hastert had called one of Individual D's relatives himself earlier this year to ask the relative to write a letter speaking to Hastert's character and need for a more lenient sentence.
Hastert faces a host of health problems, and his sentencing has already been delayed due to health issues (his attorneys say he "nearly died"). On Wednesday, his attorney requested that Judge Durkin merely sentence Hastert to probation, and not prison, for a combination of reasons that include his poor health, his remorse and the shame this case has already brought him.
You can read the full Tribune report for more details.