As former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert awaits his April 27 sentencing by a federal judge for charges related to evading banking laws, the Chicago Tribune has reported that unidentified sources within law enforcement can confirm that four men have filed “credible allegations” which accuse the 74-year-old Republican with sexual abuse.
All four of the accusers have stated they were sexually abused by Hastert as they were teenagers in Yorkville, Illinois. Before Hastert was two steps away from the presidency as U.S. House Speaker (1999-2007), he was a teacher and the wrestling coach of his accusers. One of the men is now dead, while two of the other three have had their identities confirmed by the Chicago Tribune.
The deceased accuser was named by the Associated Press and the Tribune as Stephen Reinboldt, who worked as the equipment manager for the wrestling team, which Hastert coached from 1965 to 1981.
Reinboldt’s sister, Jolene Burdge of Billings, Montana, has told the AP that her brother told her his first homosexual experience was with Hastert and that the sexual abuse lasted throughout his time at Yorkville. Reinboldt died in 1995.
His death was a complication with AIDS, said his sister.
Of the three remaining accusers, only one, known as Individual D agreed to speak to the newspaper. Individual D and Individual A were popular athletes while coached by Hastert at Yorkville High School. Both came from well-known families.
Individual A is at the heart of Hastert’s indictment, as he received $1.7 million in hush money from Hastert. It was not revealed until an unannounced hearing on March 23 that the reason for Hastert’s agreement to pay Individual A was to cover up sexual misconduct from decades past. In fact, it took 300 days after Hastert’s indictment for the words “sexual abuse” to be uttered on the record.
Hastert was charged on May 28, 2015 and pleaded guilty in October to an illegal bank structuring charge and lying to FBI agents in 2014 about suspicious bank withdrawals.
For nearly two years beginning in June 2010, Hastert made 15 cash withdrawals of $50,000 each, giving the $750,000 to Individual A at meetings about every six weeks, according to Hastert’s plea agreement with federal prosecutors. Then in April 2012, nearly two years after he had begun the withdrawals, bank officials warned Hastert such large withdrawals had to be reported to financial regulators.
So he began illegally structuring the transactions in increments of less than $10,000 to avoid the requirement. In the more than two years that followed, Hastert made a total of 106 withdrawals in sums of less than $10,000, totaling $952,000, which he gave to Individual A.
In March, prosecutors disclosed to Hastert’s lawyers that Individual D and Reinhold’s sister Jolene Burdge might come forward at the sentencing hearing this month.
Hastert faces between six months and five years in prison for the charges to which he has pleaded guilty. He was hospitalized with a stroke in December, which his lawyers have argued should suggest a shorter sentence, since he has “deteriorated both physically and emotionally, undoubtedly in part due to public shaming and humiliation of an unprecedented degree.”