The attorney for former House Speaker Dennis Hastert has expressed fear that the allegations against his client of past sexual abuse could jeopardize the trial.
Hastert's attorney, Thomas Green, a Washington lawyer with the Chicago-based firm Sidley Austin, called the media reports about the alleged abuse "unconscionable," the Chicago Tribune reported. Green also said he might ask U.S. District Judge Thomas Durkin to investigate the reports of the sex abuse, which came from unnamed federal law enforcement officials.
Hastert was indicted on May 28 for making regular withdrawals from his bank accounts below a limit that would require reporting and then lying to federal officials when asked about those withdrawals. He faces charges for the bank withdrawals, but not for the alleged sexual abuse.
Hastert pleaded not guilty to the federal charges on June 9.
The Department of Justice and the IRS allege Hastert, 73, withdrew $1.7 million from various banks between 2010 to 2014 and provided the funds to an unnamed person "to compensate for and conceal his prior misconduct." He is accused of promising a total of $3.5 million to that person, only identified as "Individual A." After numerous attempts by media outlets to identify the individual, he or she remains anonymous.
The federal law enforcement sources in question told media outlets, including NBC News, that Hastert withdrew the money to cover up a sexual relationship he had with a man who was a student at Yorkville High School in Illinois. Hastert was a teacher and wrestling coach at the high school from 1965 to 1981.
Since the sex abuse allegations surfaced, the sister of a now deceased man came forward and claimed her brother was one of Hastert's victims. The man was the manager of the Yorkville High School wrestling team that Hastert coached, according to the Associated Press. Her claims of the abuse have not been verified.
If convicted of the charges against him, Hastert faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.