Hastert, 74, pleaded guilty in the fall to violating federal banking laws by withdrawing money in small enough increments to avoid mandatory reporting requirements. This charge wound up revealing that Hastert, a Republican who retired from Congress in 2007, had been accused of sexual misconduct while he was a high school teacher and wrestling coach in Yorkville, Ill.
Last week, prosecutors detailed some of the allegations in a memo that graphically described Hastert sexually molesting or improperly touching teenage boys while he was a wrestling coach.
While it was Hastert’s financial actions that prompted the charge against him, prosecutors urged a judge in the case to consider the abuse allegations, even though the federal and state statutes of limitations have expired.
In March, it emerged in court documents that prosecutors learned relatively recently another man — identified as “Individual D” in a court filing — was also accusing Hastert of abuse. A prosecutor asked that this man be allowed to speak at Hastert’s sentencing on April 27.
Prosecutors said Wednesday they expect “Individual D” and Jolene Burdge, who said that her late brother was abused by Hastert, to testify. Both are expected to read from prepared statements, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago.
Hastert’s attorneys said a court filing last week that he “does not contest the allegations of Individual D, but in all candor he has no current recollection of the episode described by Individual D.”
The 14-page filing was unsealed Wednesday at the order of U.S. District Judge Thomas M. Durkin, who rejected a request from attorneys for Hastert to keep the response hidden. They had argued that releasing the filing would reveal the contents of a sentencing recommendation.
An attorney for Hastert did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.
In the filing, Hastert’s attorneys dismissed what they said was a suggestion from the sentencing report that Hastert should submit to “a sex offender assessment” and have to take a polygraph test to see if there was “any recent misconduct.”
They also wrote in the filing that while the recommendation implied that Hastert could have concealed other “inappropriate conduct” since 1979 or could do so in the future, “there is no basis” to think any such misdeeds occurred since 1979. Hastert’s attorneys said they did not want this suggestion, or one that Hastert could have traveled internationally “to anonymously engage in sexual misconduct overseas,” considered in sentencing.
His attorneys also argued that allegations involving the teenagers occurred decades before the financial withdrawals, and as such should not be considered relevant to punishment stemming from that.
They also suggested that the financial situation that prompted the initial law enforcement interest in Hastert does not appear to be over. Authorities said that Hastert had initially agreed to pay $3.5 million to “Individual A” to cover up his allegations and that he wound up paying $1.7 million.
In the filing unsealed Wednesday, Hastert’s attorneys said that lawyers for “Individual A” have threatened to sue the former speaker to get “the remaining $1.8 million from their initial arrangement, plus statutory interest.”
Attorneys for the former speaker have asked Durkin to sentence him to probation, saying he is in poor health and has already been publicly shamed. In the filing last week, they said that “intense media scrutiny…has already exacted a heavy toll on Mr. Hastert and his family.”
In a statement over the weekend, Thomas Green, Hastert’s defense attorney, said: “Mr. Hastert acknowledges that as a young man he committed transgressions for which he is profoundly sorry. He earnestly apologizes to his former students, family, friends, previous constituents and all others affected by the harm his actions have caused.”
When authorities first saw Hastert’s withdrawals — which were below $10,000 to avoid the reporting requirements — they wondered if someone was extorting him. On Wednesday, Durkin said during the hearing he will consider Hastert’s initial claims that he had only taken the money out to keep it “in a safe place” as one of “the aggravating factors” in his sentencing, the Chicago Tribune reported.
This story has been updated with details from the unsealed court filing.