The attorney for “James Doe”, an acknowledged victim of Dennis Hastert, said Wednesday she has been approached for a “settlement demand” from Hastert’s attorney--a number which, if agreed upon, would end that man’s ongoing lawsuit against the disgraced former House speaker.
The now-grown accuser says he is still owed the majority of what was supposed to have been $3.5 million in hush money designed to keep decades-old sexual abuse at Hastert’s hands quiet. The scheme was uncovered after Hastert had paid an estimated $1.7 million, and the man says he believes he is still owed the balance.
“We wouldn’t be inclined to start coming down off of that in an initial demand,” said the man’s attorney, Kristi Browne, who indicated “I feel pretty confident that he does still have assets to pay this particular contract.”
Hastert remains in a federal penitentiary in Rochester, Minnesota, serving a 15 month sentence. Browne indicated she hopes to question the former speaker in connection with her client’s lawsuit when he regains his freedom, possibly in July.
“At this point we’re holding off, hoping we can do that when he gets out of prison,” she said. “It’s a little easier to do.”
Her client, known in court documents as “James Doe”, has never been publicly identified. And Browne says she intends to keep it that way, even if the case goes to trial.
“The logistics would probably be that the courtroom would be closed during his testimony and it may also be that he testifies at a time that’s not published,” she said. “It is somewhat unusual, but we have to remember that we are talking about a case that involves sexual abuse of a minor, and in those cases the court’s been a little more willing , more flexible, about keeping the identity of the victim private.”
Browne noted outside court that it is true that the majority of all civil cases settle. In the meantime, the two sides agreed that there may be a need for voluminous discovery--much of which is still sealed as part of Hastert’s criminal case. Browne indicated she may approach the federal judge who oversaw that case, to transfer those materials, still under seal, to her case.
The matter is scheduled to return to court in Kendall County Aug. 28 at 9 a.m.