Denny Hastert, our former local representative to Congress who eventually would become United States Speaker of the House, is alleged to have engaged in sexual misconduct with 4 victims, according to a report by the Chicago Tribune.
"Federal authorities have hinted at the motive behind the hush-money payments former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert has admitted to making: the sexual abuse of a teenage boy when Hastert was still a suburban high school teacher and wrestling coach.
But now, a Tribune investigation has uncovered new details of the case — at least four people have made what law enforcement sources say are credible allegations of sexual abuse against Hastert.
The Tribune has determined the identities of three of them, all men, whose allegations stretch over a decade when they were teenagers and Hastert was their coach. One is dead. The Tribune has approached the other two — described in federal court records as Individuals A and D — and confirmed their roles in the case.
The man who received $1.7 million from Hastert and is at the center of the federal indictment — Individual A — declined to be interviewed by the Tribune. Behind the government's carefully worded court documents, reporters discovered a sometimes-pained narrative of his life since his days as a standout wrestler in the 1970s and how his interactions with Hastert might have affected him.
Individual D has talked to the Tribune at length but has not agreed to be named, although he is considering speaking at Hastert's sentencing in federal court April 27.
Hastert is alleged to have sexually abused the teens identified by the Tribune when he was a teacher and coach at Yorkville High School in the far southwest suburbs, decades before he became the longest-serving Republican speaker. Some of the alleged conduct, which prosecutors have not detailed, might come to light this week when prosecutors are expected to file sentencing memorandums.
One of the alleged victims served as a team equipment manager a few years after Hastert arrived at the school in 1965. Stephen Reinboldt died of AIDS in 1995, and his younger sister has long spoken out about the details she said he shared with her while alive. Two others, who came to the school later, were talented and popular student-athletes from well-known local families — the sort of combination that often bodes well for the future. They all graduated from college.
The identity of the fourth accuser whom authorities have deemed credible remains unknown.
In a statement, Hastert attorney Tom Green did not specify any sexual abuse by his client but did say Hastert was apologetic and had suffered humiliation and shame.
"Mr. Hastert has made mistakes in judgment and committed transgressions for which he is profoundly sorry," Green said. "He fully understands the gravity of his misconduct decades ago and regrets that he resorted to … an effort to prevent the disclosure of that misconduct."
NOTE: Although we have been repeatedly told the names of some alleged victims, like the Chicago Tribune, we have chosen not to publish those that are alive, unless they consent to being public.
We also want our viewers to recognize sexual misconduct is a broader problem than this situation. In Aurora, there is a history of questionable sexual behavior from several members of the Aurora Police Department, including current corrupt chief Kristen Ziman to allegations of sexual harassment going back many years by corrupt mayor Tom Weisner.