A man leveling new allegations that he was sexually abused by former U.S. House speaker J. Dennis Hastert will be allowed to speak at Hastert’s sentencing next month — setting up the possibility that the disgraced Republican leader will face a significant public shaming before a federal judge determines what penalty he deserves for paying millions to cover up decades-old misconduct.
The man’s identity and his precise allegations remain unclear, though he seems to be at least the third person to have claimed Hastert abused him. The new allegations emerged in a transcript of a hearing that court officials released Wednesday.
Hastert, 74, pleaded guilty last year to violating federal banking laws, admitting in a deal with prosecutors that he withdrew money from banks in increments low enough to avoid mandatory reporting requirements and that he paid someone to keep decades-old misconduct a secret.
A federal law enforcement official has said that the person Hastert paid off was a former male student of Hastert’s who alleged that the former speaker molested him years ago. He is different from the man who now might speak at Hastert’s sentencing. Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Block said prosecutors learned about that man “relatively recently” and asked U.S. District Judge Thomas M. Durkin to delay Hastert’s sentencing so the man could attend, according to the newly released transcript.
Block said the man was “not a hundred percent certain” he wanted to testify “but he has been moving in that direction,” according to the transcript.
Over defense attorneys’ objection, Durkin agreed to move the hearing from April 8 to April 27 and asserted that the man, identified in the transcript only as “Individual D,” would be able to detail what he claims happened to him.
“If victims of — and let’s not beat around the bush — if Individual D wants to come in and talk about being a victim of sexual abuse, he’s entitled to do so because that informs my decision about the history and characteristics of the defendant,” Durkin said, according to the transcript. “It’s that simple.”
A spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Chicago declined to comment, and Hastert’s defense attorney did not immediately return phone and e-mail messages.
Hastert, a teacher and wrestling coach in Yorkville, Ill., before he got into politics in the early 1980s, has seen his reputation crumble since federal prosecutors alleged in an indictment last year that he agreed to pay someone $3.5 million to cover up “past misconduct.” Though the indictment — and Hastert’s eventual guilty plea — made no mention of any sexual misconduct, word of such allegations quickly slipped out.
A Montana woman has said her brother, too, was abused by Hastert decades ago when he was a student manager on the wrestling team that Hastert coached. She also intends to speak at the sentencing, prosecutors and defense attorneys said, according to the transcript.
Federal sentencing guidelines call for Hastert, who has faced significant health problems in recent months, to face zero to six months in prison, though the judge could deviate from that term.