After The Chicago Tribune reported on the millions of dollars in hush money former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert paid out several days ago, a new filing by federal prosecutors alleges that Hastert in fact sexually abused five minors during his time as a wrestling coach at Yorkville High School. One of the victims was 14 years old at the time of abuse.
The memorandum also confirms that Hastert, who was second in the line of succession to the presidency for eight years, paid $3.5 million in cash as part of an agreement “to compensate Individual A for sexual abuse of Individual A committed by defendant when Individual A was 14 years old and defendant was his wrestling coach.”
From the filing:
The federal and state statutes of limitations have long expired on potential charges relating to defendant’s known sexual acts against Individual A and other minors. These known acts consist of the defendant’s intentional touching of minors’ groin area and genitals or oral sex with a minor.
With this case, the government seeks to hold defendant accountable for the crimes he committed that can still be prosecuted: defendant’s structuring of cash withdrawals and his lies to the government about that activity. But those crimes, while recent, have their origin in the defendant’s past. The actions at the core of this case took place not on the defendant’s national public stage but in his private one-on-one encounters in an empty locker room and a motel room with minors that violated the special trust between those young boys and their coach.
Because the statute of limitations has expired, Hastert is only being charged for banking fraud, which he pled guilty to back in October. Hastert could face anywhere from zero to six months in prison for the charges, which the new filing notes as “the appropriate range.” In other words, prosecutors may very well not demand any prison time for Hastert at all.
Authorities initially became involved after Hastert refused to offer a reasonable explanation for the large sums of money he’d been withdrawing from the bank. When the bank first noticed the withdrawals, Hastert was instructed to contact a risk management officer. The former Speaker tried to explain away his suspicious activity by saying that he wanted the cash for stocks and investments. Except that, according to the risk management officer, “[Hastert’s] explanations did not make sense, i.e., one cannot buy stocks with cash, and the risks associated with possessing large amounts of currency far outweigh the risks of a bank failure.”
When Hastert refused to elaborate, the risk management officer tried to tell him that the bank needed to fully understand his activity in order to comply with the Bank Secrecy Act and the PATRIOT Act. At which point Hastert explained that “the PATRIOT Act was just for terrorism and he was not a terrorist.”
The memo spends several pages cataloguing Hastert’s violation of banking laws before detailing his horrifying encounters with minors in the 1970s:
Individual A wrestled all four years in high school with defendant as his coach. At one point, defendant told Individual A that he could attend a wrestling camp with the team. There were between 10 and 14 boys on the trip, and defendant was the only adult. The team stayed two nights in a motel on the return trip. The defendant told Individual A he would stay in defendant’s room while the other boys stayed in another room. Individual A did not know why defendant singled him out.
When it was time for bed, Individual A went to defendant’s motel room.Earlier in the trip, Individual A had complained about a groin pull. While in the motel room, defendant asked about Individual A’s injury and said he wanted to check on it. Defendant told Individual A to lie down on the bed and take off his underwear.Defendant then began massaging Individual A’s groin area. It became clear toIndividual A that defendant was not touching him in a therapeutic manner to address a wrestling injury but was touching him in an inappropriate sexual way. A few moments later, Individual A jumped off the bed, grabbed his underwear, and ran across the room to slouch in a chair. Individual A was confused and embarrassed about his physical reaction to defendant’s contact with him, and he apologized to defendant.
The other incidents describe similar scenarios, though in Individual B’s case, Hastert goes one step further:
Individual B was a wrestler at Yorkville High School for defendant. One dayduring his freshman year, when Individual B was 14 years old, Individual B wasalone in the locker room with defendant after Individual B had worked out. Eitherjust after Individual B showered or while Individual B changed by his locker,defendant told Individual B to get on a table so defendant could “loosen him up.”Individual B lay on the table face-down and defendant started massaging him.Defendant had Individual B turn over so Individual B was lying face-up on the table.Defendant then performed a sexual act on Individual B.
Hastert is scheduled to be sentenced on April 27. You can read the federal prosecutors’ memorandum in full below.