Dennis Hastert, 74, the non-transgender, heterosexual former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, has been sentenced to 15 months in prison on bank fraud charges stemming from hush money he paid to cover up child molestation claims. The claims date back more than 30 years, to the time before Hastert was elected to Congress, when he was a high school wrestling coach.
Hastert pleaded guilty to violating banking regulations by withdrawing just under $10,000 each time he made a hush-money payment to one of his victims and then lying to investigators as he tried to cover up his criminal activity.
After his release, Hastert will serve two years on probation and he was fined $250,000.
Federal Judge Thomas Durkin called Hastert — who finally admitted, just before the sentence was handed down, that he sexually abused students while he was wrestling coach at Yorkville High School — a “serial child molester.”
“Nothing is more disturbing than having ‘serial child molester’ and ‘speaker of the House’ in the same sentence,” Durkin said.
Referring to the fact that the statute of limitations has run out on the actual molestation cases, Durkin also told Hastert, “I can’t sentence you as a child molester. Your sentence today will do what you would have faced in state court.” He said that the sentence he imposed was relatively light because of Hastert’s advanced age and poor health.
Hastert, for his part, apologized for having “mistreated” his former students. “I want to apologize to the boys I mistreated when I was a coach,” he said. “They looked [up] at me and I took advantage of them.