In October, former House Speaker Dennis J. Hastert pleaded guilty to bank fraud and lying to the FBI about millions he paid to cover up what an indictment called “prior misconduct.” That “misconduct” is widely rumored to be sexual abuse, committed when Hastert was a wrestling coach; the Chicago Tribune now reports that four people have made separate allegations against him.
Last year, the sister of a man named Steve Reinboldt said that her brother had disclosed that Hastert sexually abused him. Reinboldt died of AIDS in 1995. Now, the Tribune, citing anonymous sources, says there are “at least” four people who have made sexual abuse allegations, and that they’ve identified three of them, all linked to the wrestling team Hastert coached:
The Tribune has determined the identities of three of them, all men, whose allegations stretch over a decade when they were teenagers and Hastert was their coach. One is dead. The Tribune has approached the other two — described in federal court records as Individuals A and D — and confirmed their roles in the case.
Hastert hasn’t been charged with sexual abuse, likely because the statute of limitations prohibits it. Now 74, he suffered a stroke in December. His attorney released a carefully-worded statement that didn’t admit sexual wrongdoing but did apologize for unspecified “misconduct.” From the Tribune:
In a statement, Hastert attorney Tom Green did not specify any sexual abuse by his client but did say Hastert was apologetic and had suffered humiliation and shame.
“Mr. Hastert has made mistakes in judgment and committed transgressions for which he is profoundly sorry,” Green said. “He fully understands the gravity of his misconduct decades ago and regrets that he resorted to … an effort to prevent the disclosure of that misconduct.”
Hastert’s attorneys are requesting that he be sentenced to probation for the bank fraud charges, saying that the sentencing, which was delayed following his stroke and is now scheduled for April 27, “will be the most difficult day in Mr. Hastert’s life.” Hastert faces up to six months in prison, according to sentencing guidelines, although a judge could choose to deviate from that. One of the alleged victims is reportedly considering speaking at Hastert’s sentencing hearing, the Tribune reports.
Hastert leaving the federal courthouse in Chicago, June 2015. Photo via AP