Hastert said to have paid student to hide sexual misconduct

Former Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) allegedly paid off a former student to hide sexual misconduct that happened decades ago when he was a high school teacher in Illinois, according to multiple reports.
Hastert was indicted Thursday on charges related to more than $1 million in payments to an unidentified person from Yorkville, Ill., where he had worked as a teacher and wrestling coach before entering politics.
{mosads}The person, identified only as “Individual A” in the indictment, was a male who was sexually abused by Hastert, according to the Los Angeles Times, citing two law enforcement officials.

NBC News reported that the person Hastert agreed to pay off had been a student at Yorkville High School while Hastert was a teacher there.

The Yorkville school district issued a statement Friday that it had “no knowledge” of any misconduct by Hastert, who worked in the school system from 1965 to 1981.

The alleged sexual misconduct against the first individual occurred while Hastert was working for the high school, according to the Times.

“It goes back a long way, back to then,” a source told the Times. “It has nothing to do with public corruption or a corruption scandal. Or to his time in office.”

The Department of Justice indicted Hastert on charges of lying to the FBI and knowingly evading bank reporting requirements, a practice known as “structuring.”

BuzzFeed reported that investigators considered including a second victim in the Hastert indictment, but opted against it.

Hastert was allegedly withdrawing large sums of money from three banks “in order to compensate for and conceal his prior misconduct” and paying the money in increments to the individual, based on an agreement for a $3.5 million repayment reached in 2010.

The former Speaker, who became a lobbyist at the law and lobby firm Dickstein Shapiro upon leaving office in 2007, began making withdrawals in increments of less than $10,000 to avoid bank reporting requirements, according to the FBI, and then lied about what he did with the money.

Hastert allegedly told the FBI he was taking out the large sums of money “because he did not feel safe with the banking system, as he previously indicated,” according to the indictment.

“Yeah … I kept the cash,” Hastert told the FBI, according to the indictment. “That’s what I’m doing.”

The only clues the indictment gave to the unnamed individual’s identity were that the person was a resident of Yorkville who Hastert knew for most of his or her life.

Hastert served as Speaker from 1999 until 2007, after Republicans lost the House majority in the 2006 midterm elections.

His indictment shocked former colleagues and current members of Congress, and it has put Hastert’s past under new scrutiny.
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) expressed shock at the news. 
“The Denny I served with worked hard on behalf of his constituents and the country,” Boehner said in a statement released Friday evening. “I’m shocked and saddened to learn of these reports.”
Hastert recalled in his memoir that he hesitated when Republicans asked him to become Speaker. Fellow Republicans thought Hastert would be the best replacement due, in part, to the perception that he had no skeletons in his closet.
Former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) resigned following a disastrous showing for Republicans in the 1998 elections. The GOP chose then-Rep. Bob Livingston (La.) to replace him after Majority Leader Dick Armey (Texas) and Majority Whip Tom DeLay (Texas) opted not to run for the job.
But not long after his selection as Speaker, Livingston acknowledged that he had engaged in an extramarital affair as the GOP hammered President Bill Clinton for his affair with Monica Lewinsky. Livingston called on Clinton to resign — and then stepped down himself.
House Republicans then asked Hastert, the chief deputy whip, to run for Speaker.
“At that point, I needed some time by myself,” Hastert wrote. “I stepped into Room H-219 in the Capitol, and they left me alone for a while,” he said. “I looked up and asked, ‘Why me, Lord?’ ”
The preview on the inside flap of Hastert’s 2004 memoir portrays him as a man with nothing to hide.
“Denny Hastert is one of the most powerful men in America — and yet chances are you know little or nothing about him. And Denny Hastert likes it that way. Not because he has anything to hide, but because he doesn’t care about who gets the credit, he just wants to get the job done for the American people,” it says.
Hastert was known as a private, soft-spoken person despite serving in the office that made him second in line to the presidency. He wrote in his memoir that “they call me ‘Speaker,’ but I like to think of myself as a listener.”
He oversaw multiple scandals involving Republicans during his tenure as Speaker, including ones involving then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (Texas) and former Rep. Mark Foley (Fla.), who resigned after it was revealed he had sent inappropriate text messages to male House pages.
Hastert came under fire when reports emerged that he and the rest of the House GOP leadership failed to respond to warnings about Foley’s sexually explicit messages. The Foley scandal and other ethics issues fed a narrative that received some of the blame for the Republican Party’s losses in 2006.
Hastert has resigned from his job at Dickstein Shapiro and has yet to publicly address the charges against him.

Updated at 6:59 p.m.

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