Former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert was sentenced today to fifteen months in prison, following a hearing in which the federal judge called Hastert a “serial child molester.” He was also ordered to pay a $250,000 fine and to undergo sex-offender treatments.
Hastert pleaded guilty last October to one count of illegally structuring his bank transactions in order to avoid questions about his large cash withdrawals. Hastert was withdrawing tens of thousands of dollars at a time to pay “hush money” to a man Hastert sexually abused decades ago when Hastert was a high school wrestling coach and the victim was a teenager. Evidence at the hearing revealed several additional instances of Hastert’s sexual abuse of teenage boys while he was a coach.
Hastert had lied to investigators when he was first approached about his large cash transactions, telling them he was being extorted. Investigators soon determined that was not the case and that Hastert had been voluntarily paying the man in order to keep him from going public with the abuse allegations.
Hastert’s attorneys had asked that the 74-year-old be spared from prison based on his poor health – he appeared in court in a wheelchair – and on the fact that he had already been disgraced. But the judge concluded that the seriousness of the sexual abuse, coupled with Hastert’s initial lies to federal investigators, justified a serious punishment. (The maximum sentence for the structuring charge was five years.)
You can read my earlier post about the details of the Hastert prosecution here.
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