The Chicago Tribune has independently confirmed that law enforcement has uncovered four “credible accusations” of ex-Speaker Dennis Hastert molesting four teen boys. The crimes happened while Hastert was a high school wrestling coach before he became Speaker of the House in 1999.
The Tribune has discovered the identities of three men — one of whom was the recipient of $1.7 million in hush money from Hastert. The fourth man is dead.
The newspaper says it’s not revealing the names of the men, saying, “The Tribune typically does not name victims of alleged sexual abuse without their consent and is not doing so here.”
Hastert’s attorney said the former House Speaker is “apologetic” and feels “humiliation” and “shame.”
Hastert has pleaded guilty only to breaking banking laws with illegal withdrawals he used to pay an individual with knowledge of his behavior.
Now 74 and in poor health, Hastert served as Speaker of the House between 1999 and 2007. He graduated from Wheaton College, an evangelical institution that used to have stringent rules on dancing, alcohol use and smoking. The only permissible form of dancing was square dancing. The ban was lifted in 2003, but had existed since the school opened its doors in 1860.
He faces up to six months in prison, but he’s hoping for probation.
Reporters in Washington and beyond are still shell-shocked by the news.
“This may be a cliche, but it feels bizarre I spent so much time covering him without the tiniest inkling of this,” National Journal Managing Editor Ben Pershing wrote on Twitter. Pershing worked at Roll Call for nine years beginning in the late 90s when he covered Hastert.
Raw Story‘s Eric Keelfeld asked, “How much of a shameless scumbag is Dennis Hastert?”