Dennis Hastert Reportedly Made Payments To Conceal “Sexual Misconduct”

The next shoe drops in the Dennis Hastert case.

GOP Convention 2012

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that the payoffs that former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert was making which led to his indictment on charges relating to structuring bank withdrawals and lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation were being made to cover up sexual misconduct in Hastert’s past

Indicted former House Speaker Dennis Hastert was paying an individual from his past to conceal sexual misconduct, two federal law enforcement officials said Friday.

One of the officials, who would not speak publicly about the federal charges in Chicago, said “Individual A,” as the person is described in Thursday’s federal indictment, was a man and that the alleged misconduct was unrelated to Hastert’s tenure in Congress. The actions date to Hastert’s time as a Yorkville, Ill., high school wrestling coach and teacher, the official said.

“It goes back a long way, back to then,” the source said. “It has nothing to do with public corruption or a corruption scandal. Or to his time in office.” Thursday’s indictment described the misconduct “against Individual A” as having “occurred years earlier.”

Asked why Hastert was making the payments, the official said it was to conceal Hastert’s past relationship with the male. “It was sex,” the source said. The other official confirmed that the misconduct involved sexual abuse.

In all honesty, after reading the indictment that was filed against Hastert, which I’ve embedded below, it seemed pretty clear that there was something like this involved in this whole story. The indictment starts out by referring to Hastert not as the former Speaker of the House but by referencing the fact that he was a High School teacher and wrestling coach in Yorkville, Illinois from 1965 to 1981 and states that the discussions between Hastert and a person identified only as “Individual A” involved “past misconduct” by Hastert. The natural conclusion from this would seem to be that Hastert was paying this person off in an effort to prevent him from going public regarding allegations of sexual misconduct while he was a teacher and coach. Even though the last of these events would have occurred thirty-four years ago, it is possible that Hastert could have still faced criminal or civil liability if the misconduct involved a minor. That would depend on what Illinois law on this issue is and whether that state has followed others in changing its laws to allow people who were sexually abused when they were minors to bring claims long after the applicable statute(s) of limitation would have expired. If that’s the case, then Hastert could also face charges related to obstruction of justice. If there are no such provisions in Illinois law, then Hastert still would have faced having his reputation damaged if the person identified as “Individual A,” or other persons, had gone public with their allegations.

Buzzfeed News, meanwhile, is reporting that Federal prosecutors agreed not to include details about allegations against Hastert in the indictment at the request of Hastert’s attorneys:

U.S. Attorney Zachary T. Fardon agreed to withhold details of former House Speaker Dennis Hastert’s alleged “prior misconduct” against an unidentified individual as part of an indictment against the Illinois Republican, two sources familiar with the case told BuzzFeed News.

Fardon announced the indictment — which charges that Hastert illegally evaded reporting transfers of large sums of money and of lying to the FBI — Thursday afternoon. Although the indictment says Hastert agreed to pay “Individual A” $3.5 million” in order to compensate for and conceal “prior misconduct” it does not include details of the alleged misconduct nor the identity of Individual A.

Fardon’s spokeswoman, Kimberly Nerheim, did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

According to sources familiar with the case, Fardon had originally been prepared to move forward with a much more explicit indictment of Hastert, who prior to serving in Congress was a high school teacher and wrestling coach for more than 15 years in Yorkville, Illinois.

But Fardon’s office ultimately agreed to limit the amount of information in the indictment, according to these sources, in part because of a request from Hastert’s attorneys.

Buzzfeed is also reporting that Federal prosecutors had also reversed a previous decision to include regarding Hastert and a second alleged victim in the indictment, which indicates that whatever it is that Hastert is accused of is something that wasn’t limited to one person. Ultimately, of course, the Federal Court that hears Hastert’s case will not decide on his guilt or innocence regarding events that took place thirty years in the past. Despite that fact, though, it seems difficult to see how the details of those events will not be made public at some point. Even if Hastert ultimately pleads guilty, which seems like it would be the most likely outcome given the fact that the prosecutors seem to have an airtight case against him, the truth is likely to come out at some point. This would make a story that has come as a shock to pretty much everyone who knew former Speaker Hastert would become even more stunning and shocking.

Update: NBC News has more detail, and seemingly confirms that this involves allegations of sexual abuse of a student while Hastert was an educator:

Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert paid a man to conceal sexual misconduct while the man was a student at the high school where Hastert taught, a federal law enforcement official told NBC News on Friday.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity. Tribune newspapers reported earlier in the day that two unnamed federal officials said that Hastert paid a man from his past to conceal sexual misconduct.

Representatives for Hastert have not returned requests for comment from NBC News.

Charles Hastert, a nephew, told NBC News on Friday that his uncle “has always been as honest and clean as they come.” He said he believes the charges are probably a political witch-hunt.

Jeff Jerabek, who was on the wrestling team in the mid-1970s, said he had never heard so much as a rumor of impropriety. He described Hastert as friendly and in tune with his students.

“If you had a problem, it wouldn’t be hard to talk to him about it,” said Jerabek, whose two older brothers were also on the team. “I remember one time I was walking along with a frown and he said, ‘Hey smiley, cheer up.’ Some teachers, it’s just a job. Not him. He was a friendly guy.”

More to come, I’m sure.

Hastert Indictment by Doug Mataconis

FILED UNDER: Crime, Law and the Courts, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. C. Clavin says:

    Perfect…he paid millions to prevent this from getting out…and it still got out.
    I think we have a new definition of the Hastert Rule.




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  2. michael reynolds says:

    Yep. They’re signaling, doing everything short of publicly yelling, “Child molester!” His resignation from Congress in 2007 always struck me as odd, and I wonder if this was already on the horizon then.




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  3. DrDaveT says:

    two federal law enforcement officials said Friday

    So the feds agreed not to include any details about the reasons for the payments in the indictment, but felt free to blab about them “off the record” to the LA Times?

    I wonder if those anonymous sources are subject to criminal penalties and/or loss of federal employment for what is almost certainly an unauthorized disclosure. Civil liability seems even more likely.




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  4. michael reynolds says:

    @DrDaveT:

    If it’s child molestation Hastert’s not suing anybody. Anyway, no jury would back him up.




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  5. @michael reynolds:

    The resignation never seemed odd to me. His party lost control of Congress after all.




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  6. @DrDaveT:

    We don’t know who the sources are. They could be witnesses who appeared before the Grand Jury. While attorneys and jurors are forbidden to talk about what is said before a Grand Jury, witnesses are not. And even if the source was someone who was not allowed to reveal Grand Jury testimony, that doesn’t mean they can’t talk about other aspects of the investigation.

    In any case, even if there was a rule violation Hastert would not have grounds to sue them himself.




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  7. michael reynolds says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Yeah, but he didn’t leave as soon as he lost control, he resigned later.




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  8. @michael reynolds:

    A couple months later as I recall. Since he had already declined to run for a leadership position after the 2006 elections, at the time it seemed clear that he was ready to end a 25 year long political career.

    Also, I’m not sure that these allegations played a role in a 2007 decision since the indictment says that “Individual A” didn’t contact Hastert until 2010.




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  9. PD Shaw says:

    That would depend on what Illinois law on this issue is and whether that state has followed others in changing its laws to allow people who were sexually abused when they were minors to bring claims long after the applicable statute(s) of limitation would have expired.

    It’s 20 years after a child-victim turns 18 for felony-type sexual abuse claims. Don’t know how Illinois courts have interpreted the change; I seem to recall that the federal courts have allowed limitations in these cases to be extended, so long as the activity was a criminal offense originally.




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  10. Surreal American says:

    So I take it that the so-called Hastert Rule will no longer be fashionably referenced in right-wing circles.




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  11. PD Shaw says:

    While I shared Doug’s assumption that something like this was implied in the indictment, I thought it was odd that an express statement that Hastert was suspected of criminal misconduct was not made. It would have been relevant to the accusations; the prosecutors need to show that the false statements and bank structuring were material in some way. The rumor that they were removed is interesting. I doubt that the prosecutor would do this as a gentlemen’s request.

    A couple of potential issues that may have forced the prosecutors to rethink. One is that they may not be able to prove it. The witness may not be cooperating or may be unreliable. Another is that while the conduct might be criminal today, it might not have been fifty years ago. Another is that prosecutors have already made their deal with Individual A, who has turned over all of his money, but is unwilling to testify. The prosecutors didn’t force him to testify out of sympathy, and Hastert’s team knows this. All the prosecutors want is every dime Hastert has ever had in those accounts that he made systemic withdrawals from.




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  12. ernieyeball says:

    …you can’t jam change down the American people’s throat,..
    Dennis Hastert

    http://www.nytimes.com/2005/02/12/politics/hastert-warns-not-to-hurry-overhaul-of-social-security.html




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  13. P.D. Shaw,

    What the prosecutors need to prove at trial and what they need to allege to make out an indictment that would survive a probable cause hearing are two very different things.




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  14. PD Shaw says:

    @PD Shaw: Correction. The 20 year extension probably does not apply to pre-1984 sexual assault cases in Illinois, which is when all of the sex crime laws were rewritten:

    Because of the unlikelihood that any cases occurring prior to July 1, 1984, would still be prosecuted, this Guide addresses only the crimes that were created with the legislation that took effect on July 1, 1984. Crimes occurring before that date would have to be charged as rape, deviant sexual assault, etc.

    Prosecuting Older Sex Crimes Cases




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  15. C. Clavin says:

    Just another Family Values Republican.




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  16. ernieyeball says:

    Hello Denny! Remember me from Yorkville?
    C-SPAN caller 2014

    http://time.com/3901774/dennis-hastert-c-span/




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  17. PD Shaw says:

    @Doug Mataconis: That the prosecutor agreed to remove the nature of the misconduct from the indictment doesn’t pass the smell test. That the prosecutor found it in the state’s interest to do so is far more plausible, though I can only speculate why.




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  18. Tillman says:

    Kinda sad that as obesity becomes a national nightmare, it’s the gym teachers no one will trust with their kids.




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  19. al-Ameda says:

    This story is getting worse by the moment
    Again, it’s nice to remember that Republicans were so principled when it came to passing judgment on Bill Clinton. As previously noted, Dennis Hastert, following the unsuccessful effort to have the Senate convict Bill Clinton, said that Republicans, “can be proud that they stood by the principles that have made this nation strong: a respect for the rule of law and an abiding faith in the strength of our Constitution.”




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  20. JohnMcC says:

    He is an alum of Wheaton College and has given enough to the college to have the business college named after himself. FWIW.




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  21. HelloWorld! says:

    So.e people,make,the erroneous link between homosexuality and pedifilia, but I really believe the link between pedifilia and conservatism needs to be studied. It seems that there,would be a viable link there.




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  22. Tom M says:

    I keep reading on more conservative blogs and even some left leaning blogs about how the reporting requirement is the bad thing here… “It’s my money!” kind of thing, which in a gut check way has a point…. but think about this: Hastert was the 3rd in line for the presidency. He was the leader of the House.
    HE WAS BEING BLACKMAILED.
    This time is was by someone with whom he had a homosexual affair.

    He could have very easily been blackmailed for the same thing by a foreign government – or a corporation, or a group that wanted specifics done (let’s not get into the fact that he was a whore in that regard anyway, as a lobbyist, but at least that’s in the sort of light of day).
    The reporting requirements were what brought this to light.
    He was in an incredibly important position, one he would had abused if he been extorted by a someone who needed something.

    That’s dangerous… and needs to be considered when you hear people shifting the blame to the rules he broke.
    And the reporting rules are just that – rules it’s still your money.
    And please save posting the links to the asset forfeiture stories… that’s a different subject, and conflating them is simply shifting the narrative.
    I think that’s terrible, unfair, and should be illegal.

    The reporting requirements aren’t onerous in and of themselves, they are usually only onerous to those who have a vested interest in avoiding reporting income




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  23. Rob Prather says:

    I saw a guy on CNN say he could have just written a check and this wouldn’t have happened. Is that true and, if so, why did he do this? Very bizarre.




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  24. Stan says:

    Here’s the House leadership when Bill Clinton was impeached – Gingrich, a serial adulterer, Livingston, ditto, Hyde, an adulterer in his youth who helped ruin another man’s marriage, Boehner, caught passing out cash from lobbyists on the House floor, DeLay, convicted of political corruption in his first trial, and now Denny Hastert. I feel sorry for Hastert. This is a terrible tragedy for him and his family, particularly his children. I can’t imagine the feelings that must have gone through his mind during his years in politics as a member and leader of the party of the righteous. It’s sad, but God forgive me, it’s funny.




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  25. HelloWorld! says:

    Mark my word, Hastert gets off because the FBI screwed up,by suggesting to him that he didn’t want to keep his money in the banks because he didn’t trust them. FBI should know,you never suggest the reason or alibi. It’ll get thrown out of court.




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  26. Paul Hooson says:

    First Newt Gingrich and his book deal scheme, then Bob Livingston and his sex scandal, then Dennis Hastert and his sex scandal. If House Republicans cannot get it right with a speaker the first time, then they need to try, try , again…




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  27. edmondo says:

    @Tom M:

    HE WAS BEING BLACKMAILED.
    This time is was by someone with whom he had a homosexual affair.

    He wasn’t being blackmailed because he had “a homosexual affair” – he was being blackmailed because he had sex with an under-aged minor. Big difference.




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  28. JohnMcC says:

    @edmondo: So the gender of the student who (the media generally assumes) was abused is irrelevant? Somehow I doubt that. My stomach is not strong enough to poke & prod the internets to find out. Maybe your appetite for carrion is voracious enough to allow you to prove your point.




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  29. stonetools says:

    @Tom M:

    I keep reading on more conservative blogs and even some left leaning blogs about how the reporting requirement is the bad thing here…

    As the OP has told us, transferring millions secretly to someone for reasons unknown is perfectly innocuous. Earning big speaker fees is the REAL corruption….




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  30. @Rob Prather:

    The check would have been even more obvious than the cash withdrawals, don’t you think?




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  31. PD Shaw says:

    @edmondo: “sex with an under-aged minor.”

    We don’t know that. Any sexual misconduct could have been with a student aged 16 or over. The indictment refers to past misconduct, it doesn’t say past criminal conduct. Illinois does not appear to have a statutory rape provision at the relevant times that was triggered by exploitation by a person in a “position of trust.” Whether or not teacher-student sex was illegal, it would still have been misconduct.

    FWIW/ Illinois repealed its sodomy laws (the first to do so) in 1961,so that would not be a crime at any time.




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  32. PD Shaw says:

    @PD Shaw: To be clear, I am not saying there could not be underaged sex involved. The indictment simply describes events happening prior to 2010 as “past misconduct,” which could be criminal or professional or unethical. When the indictment describes recent events relating to money and extortion, it describes those as criminal or at least potentially criminal.




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  33. edmondo says:

    @JohnMcC:

    So the gender of the student who (the media generally assumes) was abused is irrelevant?

    It’s irrelevant to me. I couldn’t care less who he sleeps with – male, female, animal, vegetable or mineral – as long as they can legally consent to do so. To be perfectly honest with you, for $3.5 million, I’d even jump into the sack with the old pervert.




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  34. @PD Shaw:

    Suppose he’d had a gay affair with an 18 year old high school senior? That’s technically legal, but so socially unacceptable it he still might want to pay to hush it up.




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  35. @PD Shaw:

    Another possibility: in Illinois, the age of consent for same-sex relationships is 18, while the age of consent for opposite-sex relationships is 16. If Individual A was a 16 or 17 year old male, there may have been concern that making an issue of it in the case would have resulted in the trial running off into a tangent about whether the Illinois Law age of consent laws are invalid due to the unequal treatment.




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  36. Rob Prather says:

    @Doug Mataconis: yes, but he’s being charged with “structured” withdrawals. If I’ve got the money I can write a check to anyone. Maybe I’m dumb, but I still don’t get it.




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  37. DrDaveT says:

    @Rob Prather:

    I saw a guy on CNN say he could have just written a check and this wouldn’t have happened.

    It depends on which “this” you mean. If Hastert had just written a check for $1.7 million, or a handful of checks for $100,000 each, then he would not be in trouble for possible structuring. The transactions would have been reported to the FBI by the bank — but then, they were anyway.




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  38. Marshall D. Moushigian, Esq. says:

    Not only did he pay hush money, but he took hush money from Turkey to keep the Armenian Genocide bill from being introduced back in the late 1990s – keep digging – you will find more.




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  39. Barry says:

    @Tom M: “This time is was by someone with whom he had a homosexual affair. ”

    That would imply two consenting adults.




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