Former politician and Illinois Rep. John Dennis “Denny” Hastert is best known for his time as House Speaker (1999-2007). This week, Hastert was sentenced to 15 months of prison for “serial child molestation.”
Before serving in Congress, Hastert worked as a high school teacher and wrestling coach. This week, he admitted to having “mistreated” many of his former students. “What I did was wrong, and I regret it,” said Hastert. “They looked to me, and I took advantage of them.”
Hastert admitted the abuse was sexual in nature.
After decades of silence, one of Hastert’s victims finally spoke up. “Individual A” filed a lawsuit this week, claiming the former Speaker had failed to pay the agreed-upon $3.5 million intended to keep him silent. Hastert plead guilty.
Judge Thomas M. Durkin, who delivered the sentence, also ruled that Hastert be under supervision for 2 years, during which time he will be prohibited from contacting the victims. The former Speaker will also pay a $250,000 fine. Durkin deemed Hastert’s attorney’s pleas for probation “inappropriate,” considering the severity of the crime.
“Nothing is more stunning than having ‘serial child molester’ and ‘Speaker of the House’ in the same sentence,’ said Durkin. “If there’s a public shaming of the defendant because of the conduct he’s engaged in, so be it.”
“Individual A” was not the only victim to testify against Hastert. Scott Cross, brother of former House GOP leader Tom Cross, claims he was abused as a 17-year-old.
“We are very proud of Scott for having the courage to relive this very painful part of his life in order to ensure that justice is done today,” said Tom’s family.
Jolene Burdge testified in place of her brother Stephen Reinboldt, describing the abuse he endured and told her about before dying of AIDS in 1995. “I hope I have been your worst nightmare,” she said to Hastert.