One of former House Speaker Dennis Hastert’s accusers says he may "go public" if Hastert does not pay him the remaining $1.8 million from the hush-money arrangement which led to Hastert’s recent federal conviction.
The revelation came in a defense filing, unsealed today in Federal Court.
Hastert had promised to pay the man, identified as “Individual A”, $3.5 million to conceal the former student’s allegations of sexual abuse during the 1970’s. He had paid him $1.7 million, but the payments were interrupted when Hastert’s banks became suspicious and notified federal authorities.
“Individual A may still go public if he pursues Mr. Hastert civilly, as his lawyer has threatened to do, if Mr. Hastert does not pay Individual A the remaining $1.8 million from their initial arrangement, plus interest,” the lawyers wrote. There was no elaboration on where those negotiations, if any, may stand.
Hastert learned Tuesday he will have to face two accusers at his sentencing later this month, and that his previous efforts to mislead the FBI will be taken into consideration by the judge considering his fate.
Convicted of hatching an elaborate scheme to conceal a sordid past, Hastert also was rebuffed in Federal Court Wednesday, in his attempt to keep one last secret.
The former speaker's lawyers asked to file under seal, their response to the Probation Department's recommendations for sentencing. That document, called a Presentence Report, or PSR, takes a variety of factors into account, including a defendant's family, social, and medical history, his offenses, and aggravating and mitigating factors. PSR's are never publicly released.
But Judge Thomas Durkin denied the request, maintaining there is nothing in the Defense's response which is now or should be kept secret, and ruled that the document should be unsealed immediately.
The seal was lifted. In addition to the revelations of Individual A’s monetary demands, the document reveals that probation officers believe Hastert should undergo a lie detector test, to reveal “any recent misconduct,” and that officials of the probation office speculate Hastert’s international travel might have allowed him to anonymously engage in sexual misconduct overseas.
The document further reveals that at one point, Hastert told investigators, “I exposed myself to a crime that I didn’t know I was involved in.”
Hastert’s problems didn’t stop there. The Judge also said he intends to consider, as an aggravating factor, Hastert’s attempts to mislead investigators, by assisting them in recording phone calls which he maintained would prove he was being extorted by a man spinning fanciful claims of abuse.
Investigators said it was during those phone calls that they concluded Hastert was not being extorted, and that the young man’s claims were in fact true.
Defense attorneys protested the relevance of the misleading calls as an aggravating factor. But Judge Durkin cut them off.
“The defendant, rather than admitting to conduct with Individual A, basically said Individual A was holding him up,” Durkin said. “That’s an aggravating fact in my mind, that’s not conduct that’s 40 years old.”
And lest the message be lost on the defense as to how they should prepare for sentencing, Durkin declared, “If you need a preview of what I think are aggravating factors, that’s a big one!”
During the hearing, prosecutors also confirmed they intend to call as witnesses, a young man identified in the records only as “Individual D”, along with Jolene Burdge, the sister of another victim who is now deceased.
Individual D is identified in court documents as a former member of the Yorkville wrestling team during the period when Hastert was coach. He recalled the former speaker had installed a “La-z-boy” type chair in the boys’ locker room where he could sit and watch while the boys showered, and that Hastert once peformed a sexual act on him during a massage.
“Mr. Hastert does not contest the allegations of Individual D, but in all candor, he has no current recollection of the episode,” his lawyers wrote.
Hastert’s sentencing is set for April 27th.