Dennis Hastert Accused Of Sexually Abusing 4 Boys, Kept Them In Silence
Disturbing new details emerged Friday in Dennis Hastert's ongoing legal saga. Hastert has been accused of sexually molesting four victims who were underage, prosecutors said Friday. The sexual abuse allegedly occurred when the former house speaker, who retired in 2007, served as a wrestling coach at a high school in Illinois decades ago. Prosecutors were able to uncover these reports of sexual molestation following an investigation into Hastert's banking transactions that sought to evade reporting requirements and violated federal law. Although details of this alleged sexual abuse have been leaked to the public in 2015, this is the first time government lawyers have published the stunning allegations, which include testimonies from four victims and the sister of a possible fifth victim.
Court documents filed Friday confirmed that Hastert paid a total of $3.5 million to one victim, identified as Individual A. According to the court documents, Hastert was Individual A's wrestling coach at the time the abuse occurred. Hastert was a popular teacher and "beloved coach" at Yorkville High School.
Prosecutors detailed the history of Hastert's alleged abuse of Individual A, which began when the victim was just 14 years old. Individual A wrestled with Hastert as his coach for all four years of high school. One year, Hastert invited Individual A to a wrestling camp; Hastert was the only adult who attended the trip, accompanying between 10 and 14 boys, according to the court documents.
At the camp, Hastert invited Individual A to his motel room, where he allegedly instructed the teenager to take off his underwear and lie down on his bed. Following the molestation, Hastert made Individual A sleep in the same bed, prosecutors say. "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," the court documents state.
Prosecutors say Individual A confronted Hastert about the sexual abuse in 2010. Court documents state:
Individual A made an appointment with defendant and asked defendant why he had done it. After a long pause, defendant said that it was a confusing and difficult time in his life. Individual A asked how many other kids defendant molested. Defendant said there were only two, one of whom defendant understood as himself.
Individual A asked Hastert for $3.5 million in compensation. Hastert agreed to pay Individual A the money so he wouldn't go public. According to the court filing, "Individual A and defendant agreed to meet every month and a half for defendant to give Individual A $50,000." Prosecutors allege these cash transactions to Individual A continued until December 2014.
But Individual A wasn't the only victim of Hastert's. The court filing describes the sexual molestation encounters of three other underage victims, identified as Individuals B, C, and D. All of these victims were students on the high school wrestling team, and the sexual abuse occurred inside the boys' locker room.
There may also be a fifth victim: An Illinois woman, Jolene Burdge, told prosecutors that her brother, Stephen Burdge, may have also been molested by Hastert when he was the student-manager of the wrestling team between 1968 and 1970. Stephen Burdge, who was gay, told his sister that Hastert was his first sexual experience happened with Hastert. Jolen Burdge allegedly confronted Hastert when he attended her brother's wake. "Defendant just stared at her and gave no verbal response before walking away," court documents state.
Prosecutors concluded that Hastert "knew that if his molestation of Individual A became public, it would increase the chance that other former students he molested would tell their stories." As a result, prosecutors claim Hastert violated banking laws to pay out Individual A and to "keep secret his sexual abuse of wrestling team members." It wasn't until he withdrew a total of $750,000 between 2010 and 2012 that Hastert learned he violated banking laws and needed to report these transactions, the former house speaker claimed. However, he then withdrew $952,000 in lump sums of less than $10,000 between 2012 and 2014.
In his sentencing memorandum, Hastert reportedly expressed regret and remorse over his past actions. However, prosecutors pointed out how Hastert said earlier in the investigation that there might be "suggested ambiguity about whether" his encounters with Individual A "constitute sexual misconduct."
"There is no ambiguity; defendant sexually abused Individual A," prosecutors counter in the court filing.
Hastert cannot be charged with sexual abuse and molestation because statue of limitations have already expired. The former house speaker pleaded guilty to charges of structuring and assisting in structuring currency transactions in October 2015, and is awaiting his sentencing hearing on April 27.