The attorney for the accuser of disgraced former House Speaker Dennis Hastert says she is still exploring options to conduct the proceedings in secret, should it go to trial later this year.
Attorney Kristi Browne says her client, known in court documents as James Doe, still very much wants to keep his identity confidential. She said she is not ruling anything out, including the possibility of "closing the courtroom" during trial proceedings.
Such measures are virtually unheard of in American courts, even in cases where intelligence operatives or foreign spies have been called as witnesses.
The case in question involves Doe's lawsuit to recover the balance of over $1 million in hush money he says Hastert promised to pay to conceal decades-old incidents of sexual abuse. It was that arrangement which eventually led to scandalous charges against the once-powerful Speaker, leading to criminal proceedings, prison, and his political downfall.
The case is inching toward trial. In Kendall County court Friday morning, Judge Robert Pilmer ordered the two sides to finish contentious discovery proceedings within the next month, and to complete depositions of Doe and Hastert by the next court date May 4.
Branded a "serial child molester" by the trial judge in his case, Hastert drew a 15 month jail sentence for violations of banking laws associated with his hush-money payments. Hastert served 13 months at the Federal prison in Rochester, Minnesota, and has rarely been seen since emerging from that facility last July.