After the Chicago Tribune reported that former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert paid millions of dollars in hush money to underage victims, four separate people came forward and made public allegations against him. Last week, a federal filing alleged that Hastert had sexually abused five minors while he was the wrestling coach at Yorkville High School in Illinois.
According to the sentencing memorandum filed on Friday, Hastert persistently abused boys, one as young as 14, and paid out over $3.5 million to cover his crimes. Prosecutors recommended that Hastert be sentenced to “no more than six months” in prison for his crimes. Because the statute of limitations has expired, it’s very likely that Hastert could spend zero time in prison. If Hastert and his lawyers have their way, the former speaker, who has already pled guilty to financial crimes relating to the case, will not spend any time in prison for sexual abuse.
In a 14-page filing, unsealed Wednesday, lawyers for Hastert objected to the recommendation of prison time. Hastert’s lawyers contested the account of a victim identified in last week’s federal memo as “Individual A.” According to “Individual A,” Hastert allegedly abused him during an overnight wrestling trip:
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 to Individual 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.
Lawyers for Hastert argued that the incident hardly amounts to abuse. The Chicago Tribune reports:
The filing also said Hastert “deeply regrets”... [an] alleged incident with a different wrestler — identified only as Individual A — during a massage in a motel room but questioned whether it rose to the level of sexual abuse.
“While undoubtedly many would consider this episode as described by Individual A, consisting as a groin rub for a groin pull and a massage, to be misconduct, we are not so certain that the incident qualifies as sexual misconduct, especially for a coach and trainer 43 years ago,” his lawyers wrote.
In response to another allegation, Hastert’s lawyers contend that he has “no recollection” of the sexual abuse.
The filing also objects to federal recommendations that Hastert undergo sex-offender assessment as well as submit to a lie detector test, the purpose of which would be to determine whether or not there are more recent crimes. Lawyers also asked the sentencing committee to take Hastert’s age and health, as well as his public apology, into account.
Hastert’s sentencing is scheduled for April 27.
Image via AP.