Judge Bars Disgraced GOP Speaker Dennis Hastert From Being Alone With Children

The same week Alabama decided it didn’t want a rumored child molester in Congress, a former Republican leader has been prohibited from being alone with minors after serving time for sexually assaulting teens back in the 1970 and ’80s.

Disgraced Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert served 13 months of a 15-month sentence, stemming from his lying about paying off a man he abused decades ago.

Dennis Hastert

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In 2016, Hastert admitted he “mistreated some of the athletes I coached.”

“I’m sorry to those I’ve hurt and misled. They looked at me, and I took advantage of them.”

Hastert’s high-powered friends, including former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, asked for leniency for the 75-year-old Illinois native.

“We all have our flaws, but Dennis Hastert has very few,” Delay wrote in a letter to District Court Judge Thomas M. Durkin. “[He] doesn’t deserve what he is going through.”

But their plea fell on deaf ears: “Nothing is more stunning than having ‘serial child molester’ and ‘Speaker of the House’ in the same sentence,” Durkin said at Hastert’s sentencing last April.

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At least four men made “credible accusations” Hastert abused them as teens, including one of whom was only 14 when Hastert—then a high-school wrestling coach—allegedly performed a sex act on him. According to court papers, Hastert put a Lay-z-boy chair in the boy’s locker room and would watch his players take showers.

In 2015, federal prosecutors indicted the Republican stalwart for attempting to hide $1.7 million he paid to a former victim and then lying about the purpose of the money to the FBI.

Hastert was a teacher and coach in Yorkville, Illinois, from 1965 to 1981, when he also volunteered with the Boy Scouts, taking high school boys on trips to the Bahamas and the Grand Canyon. (“I saw those kids develop and meet challenges and change,” he once remarked.)

Steve Reinboldt, who died of AIDS-related complications in 1995, told his sister that he and Hastert had an ongoing sexual relationship while Reinboldt was a student manager on the wrestling team in the early 1970s.

Mazzenga/Chicago Tribune/Getty

Hastert took a seat in the Illinois House of Representatives shortly after leaving Yorkville and was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1987, staying for two decades. He served as Speaker from 1999 to 2007, making him the longest-serving Republican Speaker in history. In that time, he helped further the GOP’s anti-LGBT agenda, including blocking the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act and bringing to the House floor a constitutional amendment prohibiting marriage equality.

“While [Hastert] achieved great success, reaping all the benefits that went with it,” prosecutors wrote, “these boys struggled, and all are still struggling now with what defendant did to them.”

Hastert’s attorneys asked for probation instead of jail time, insisting he is “profoundly sorry” for any harm he caused and has otherwise led a life of public service.

But prosecutors say his “legacy of sexual abuse and its real consequences are as much a part of defendant’s history and characteristics as those he has presented to the court.”
In addition to his sentence, he was fined $250,000 and had to register as a sex offender.

On Tuesday Durkin ordered that, as a stipulation of his release, Hastert must not be left alone with children unless another adult who is aware of his past. He is also barred from possessing pornography or using phone sex lines, must hand over phone and credit card bills when requested, submit to searches of his home on demand, and get aproval from his probation officer before using any computer or other device with Internet access.

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