Disgraced former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert quietly paid out millions of dollars in hush money because at least four minors lodged “credible accusations of sexual abuse” against him, a Chicago Tribune investigation finds.
Last year Hastert was indicted on charges relating to the payouts, which the FBI said totaled at least $3.5 million and related back to Hastert’s time as a high school teacher and wrestling coach in the 1970s, where authorities believe he sexually abused his students.
Hastert has never been arrested for or charged with a sex crime, which are now likely barred by statutes of limitation. And last October, he made a plea deal on the banking fraud charges related to the payouts—ensuring he wouldn’t have to testify about the alleged abuse, which was referenced in the indictment and would have likely come up in the trial.
But that hasn’t stopped the allegations from surfacing anyway. The Chicago Tribune reports it tracked down at least three of the four teens—now adults—who the FBI said had “credible allegations” of sex abuse against Hastert and confirmed their accounts.
One of the families has already gone public, saying Hastert took advantage of then-teen Stephen Reinboldt, who worked as a team equipment manager for the wrestling team. Reinboldt died of AIDS in 1995.
According to the Tribune, two of the other alleged victims, who did not want to be named in the story, were “talented and popular student-athletes from well-known local families,” whose lives took divergent paths after the alleged abuse.
One of the alleged victims, referred to in the indictment as Individual D, is now a “successful businessman,” who is married with children. He confirmed the details for the paper and is reportedly preparing a statement to be used in sentencing proceedings against Hastert, which are set to begin this week.
The other alleged victim, referred to in the indictment as Individual A, did not do as well. According to the Tribune, he experienced “significant” emotional and financial problems after high school that culminated with medical leave in 2010—the same year he began receiving payments from Hastert. By 2014, Hastert had paid him about $1.7 million in cash. Still, sources tell the paper the payments were more akin to an out-of-court settlement than an extortion attempt.
The FBI apparently became involved after a sheriff’s deputy discovered Individual A in a van on the side of the road holding $24,400 in hundred dollar bills.
The paper was apparently unable to locate the fourth victim referenced in the indictment.