The sister of an alleged sex abuse victim of former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert came forward today to share her brother’s story and call Hastert out for his alleged crimes. This follows Hastert’s indictment last week for illegally funneling $3.5 million to an unnamed person from his past as a high school wrestling coach.
Jolene Burdge of Billings, Montana, spoke to Good Morning America about her brother Steve Reinboldt’s relationship with Hastert in high school. Hastert was his teacher and wrestling coach at Yorkville High School until he graduated in 1971, and Burdge says Reinboldt’s first homosexual contact was with Hastert.
Per Good Morning America,
“I asked him, when was your first same sex experience. He looked at me and said, ‘It was with Dennis Hastert,’” Jolene said. “I was stunned.”
Jolene said she asked her brother why he never told anyone. “And he just turned around and kind of looked at me and said, ‘Who is ever going to believe me?’”
Jolene said that Steve told her the abuse lasted throughout Steve’s four years of high school as he served as team student manager. “Mr. Hastert had plenty of opportunities to be alone with Steve, because he was there before the meets,” she said. “He was there after everything because he did the laundry, the uniforms. So he was there by himself with him,” she added.
Her brother also spent time with Hastert as a member of an Explorers troop, which Hastert ran. Photos taken by her brother show Hastert with a group of boys on a diving trip to the Bahamas.
Reinboldt’s sister says she has no doubts about the veracity of what her brother told her 36 years ago.
Burdge says Reinboldt’s relationship with Hastert “irrevocably” harmed him. He died of AIDS in 1995.
Burdge says she tried to speak out about the alleged abuse before, in 2006, when then-Rep. Mark Foley was found sexting with an underage male page. ABC News says reporters spoke to Burdge at that time, but they couldn’t verify her report. Hastert denied the claim at the time.
Hastert has yet to speak out about his indictment or these allegations. He’s due in court next week.
Burdge says she wants to speak out about her brother’s struggle because she wants other potential Hastert victims to know they are not alone, and that “when they were kids, at that point in their life when they were going through this, it wasn’t talked about like it is now.”
“I feel vindicated and that Steve’s vindicated, that Mr. Hastert can’t pull this wool over everybody’s eyes,” she says. “Finally the truth comes out.”
While Burdge says she never asked Hastert for money, she believes the person who did—identified by the FBI only as “Individual A”—may have known about her brother’s relationship with Hastert.