Former House speaker Dennis Hastert must not be left alone with children unless another adult is present who knows that he paid money to conceal that he’d sexually abused teenage boys, a federal judge in Chicago ordered on Tuesday, according to the Associated Press.
Hastert, who admitted in 2015 to doling out hush money and lying about it to the FBI, is also barred from possessing pornography and using sex chat lines. The Illinois Republican left a federal prison in Minnesota in July after serving nearly 13 months of his 15-month sentence. He is now on supervised release.
U.S. District Judge Thomas M. Durkin issued a number of other restrictions on the daily life of the 75-year-old. He must consent to the installation of monitoring software on his computers, covering all of the costs himself. He must hand over his phone bills or credit card statements when asked, and submit to a search of his home and belongings on demand, without a warrant, according to NBC Chicago. He also needs to get prior approval from the probation department before using any computer or other device with Internet access.
The order came a day after a probation officer monitoring Hastert’s case filed a report under seal in Chicago federal court.
It was unclear why the judge issued the new conditions on Tuesday. Hastert has recently been undergoing a sex offender evaluation ordered by the court to expose any undisclosed offenses and determine whether he presents a danger to society, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Hastert’s attorney was not immediately available for comment. The AP and Chicago Tribune reported that he did not respond to their requests for a statement.
The judge’s order indicated that Hastert agreed to the new restrictions, the Tribune reported.
Hastert pleaded guilty in 2015 to violating federal banking laws by withdrawing money from banks in increments low enough to avoid mandatory reporting requirements. That sum turned out to be intended as hush money. Hastert, a former high school teacher and wrestling coach in suburban Chicago, agreed to pay $3.5 million to buy the silence of a man he abused sexually as a teenager, according to an indictment, The Washington Post’s Matt Zapotosky reported.
He paid that person, a former male student of his, about $1.7 million from 2010 to 2014, according to the indictment.
Authorities did not charge Hastert with any sex crimes, as the statutes of limitation had long since expired. But in his sentencing hearing last year, the judge called him a “serial child molester.”
Prosecutors revealed in court filings that Hastert allegedly molested or inappropriately touched five teenagers associated with the wrestling team he coached. Before entering politics, Hastert served as a teacher and wrestling coach in Yorkville, Ill., from 1965 to 1981.
The revelations, and Hastert’s resulting prison sentence, marked a shocking fall from grace for a man who rose to become one of the nation’s highest-ranking elected officials. Hastert led the House from 1999 to 2009, making him the longest-serving Republican House speaker in history.
Discussion of Hastert’s sexual abuse allegations has re-emerged in recent weeks in light of a national reckoning of sexual harassment and misconduct by men in power, including some members of Congress.
The FBI and IRS began looking into Hastert four years ago after investigators received a tip that he had been withdrawing large amounts of cash and was not being truthful with bank officials about the reason. At first, Hastert claimed he was being extorted, saying a man was making false claims that Hastert had molested him, The Post reported.
Investigators looked into his claims but soon suspected it was Hastert who might be lying.
In his sentencing hearing, Hastert told the judge that he was “deeply ashamed” to be in court and was still “struggling to come to terms with events that occurred four decades ago.” He apologized for his behavior and admitted that he “mistreated some of my athletes that I coached.”
One accuser, Scott Cross, described during the hearing how Hastert abused him during his senior year of high school. One day after practice, Cross said, he stayed late and ended up alone with Hastert in a locker room. Hastert offered him a massage, then pulled down his shorts and touched him in a sexual way, Cross alleged.
Cross had “looked up to Coach Hastert,” he said.
“As a 17-year-old boy, I was devastated,” he said. He told the judge he wanted to make known “the pain and suffering he caused me then, and still causes me today.”
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