Former GOP Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert Molested 4 Boys, Prosecutors Say
On Friday, federal prosecutors provided evidence former Republican Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert sexually abused at least four boys, the New York Times reported.
Federal investigators say the incidents occurred while Hastert was a wrestling coach in Illinois, spanning three decades from the 1960s to the 1980s. While the alleged crimes occurred too long ago to prosecute, thanks to the statute of limitations, evidence of the abuse came to light in a recent investigation into undeclared withdrawals from Hastert's bank accounts.
According to prosecutors, Hastert was attempting to covertly pay off a settlement with one of the alleged victims. His lawyers initially attempted to portray the payments as an extortion attempt. Hastert has since pleaded guilty for financial misconduct for failing to report a cash payment of $10,000 or over and faces sentencing on April 27.
"Known acts" of Hastert's abuse included "intentional touching of minors' groin area and genitals or oral sex with a minor," according to the Times.
Hastert paid out $1.7 million in cash to the unknown victim, with $952,000 of that money in chunks of $9,000, according to court documents.
Some outside observers, such as Talking Points Memo's Josh Marshall, have noted Hastert's troubling connection to a scandal in 2006 when House leadership, including Hastert during his tenure as Speaker, was slow to respond to allegations Rep. Mark Foley had had sex with high-school-aged members of the congressional page program.
The Hill reports federal guidelines recommend a sentence of six months, but the presiding judge could choose to send Hastert to prison for as long as five years. His defense team has instead asked the judge for probation, due to the 74-year-old ex-congressman's failing health.