J. Dennis Hastert, Ex-House Speaker Who Admitted Sex Abuse, Leaves Prison

The plea deal does not explicitly say that Mr. Hastert sexually abused Individual A, but at his sentencing last year, the former House speaker admitted for the first time that he sexually abused the teenage wrestlers he coached at Yorkville High School in Yorkville, Ill., where he worked from 1965 to 1981. Federal prosecutors have said that Individual A is one of at least four boys, as young as 14, molested by Mr. Hastert decades ago.

“I want to apologize to the boys I mistreated when I was their coach,” Mr. Hastert said at his sentencing in 2016. “What I did was wrong and I regret it.”

But Judge Thomas M. Durkin of Federal District Court rebuked him at his sentencing as “a serial child molester” and asked him about at least three other specific victims: Scott Cross, who spoke at the sentencing, a man identified only as “Victim B,” and Stephen Reinboldt, a repeated victim of Mr. Hastert’s who died of AIDS in 1995.

“Some actions can obliterate a lifetime of good works,” the judge said at the time. “Nothing is more stunning than having ‘serial child molester’ and ‘speaker of the House’ in the same sentence.”

Mr. Hastert, who has served 13 months of his sentence, was also ordered to pay $250,000 in fines and to receive sex-offender treatment.

Mr. Cross told CNN in an interview on Tuesday that he was “surprised” that Mr. Hastert had been moved to a halfway house and called it “a slap on the wrist.” He also said that since Mr. Hastert’s conviction he had been in contact with other Hastert abuse victims who were not mentioned in court.

READ ---  LOOK: A football team of 8-year-olds knelt for the anthem in response to St. Louis protests

“There was a common theme of how he went about his abuse,” Mr. Cross said. “I did talk to some others that were not part of the government case, but there were the same stories about what he did and how he went about his abuse.”

Lawyers for Mr. Hastert did not respond to an email seeking comment on Tuesday evening.

The former speaker was never charged with sexual abuse because the statute of limitations had expired. But the financial crime to which he pleaded guilty pointed to an elaborate but ultimately panicked attempt to cover up that abuse.

According to the plea deal, Mr. Hastert paid Individual A roughly $1.7 million between 2010 and 2014. For the first two years of that arrangement he gave his former victim $50,000 roughly every six weeks, but then began structuring his payments to evade detection after bank officials questioned him in April 2012.

Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation also questioned Mr. Hastert about his bank withdrawals in December 2014. In the plea deal, he admitted that he “intentionally concealed from the agents that he withdrew the money to compensate Individual A and the reason for the agreement with Individual A.”

Mr. Hastert served in the House of Representatives from 1987 to 2007 and was the speaker of the House from 1999 to 2007.

Continue reading the main story