The man who accused former House Speaker Dennis Hastert of sexually abusing him in high school, leading to Hastert’s conviction on financial charges, once suggested that Hastert’s wife and son might mediate the terms of a financial arrangement designed to guarantee his silence.
Court documents filed in an ongoing lawsuit indicate Hastert balked at the man’s offer.
“He did not want to go that route,” the man, identified as James Doe said in a deposition. “He wanted this to remain completely between he and I.”
Hastert agreed to pay Doe $3.5 million in hush money to guarantee his silence. The deal was blown open after federal regulators began asking questions about Hastert’s large cash withdrawals. Having been paid only $1.7 million, Doe is now demanding the $1.8 million he says he is still owed.
Hastert has complained that Doe voided their agreement by revealing it to third parties. In the deposition, the man admits having told, among others, his wife, therapist, brother, and father of the allegations and the payment arrangement.
“Plaintiff was required to keep the existence of his alleged agreement and its subject matter completely confidential without exception,” Hastert’s attorney John Ellis wrote. “He told at least six people.”
To prove his point, Ellis attached a portion of Doe’s deposition.
“I told him that something had happened between Hastert and I, and I sort of motioned towards my crotch,” Doe said, referring to a conversation with his brother. “And I said, ‘so we have an agreement and I know you could use some financial help and I can help you.’”
Doe said after that conversation, he gave his brother $5,000 of the Hastert hush money for home improvements.
In a separate filing, Doe’s lawyer Kristi Browne counters that her client had a radically different understanding of his confidentiality obligations.
“My understanding correctly that my obligation was not to a lawyer,” he said in his deposition. “Not to go to law, police, and not to go to media of any kind.”
Browne suggested that Hastert’s efforts to throw the case out are based on thin legal ice.
“Hastert undoubtedly does not enjoy being forced to relive his transgressions,” she wrote. “He may disagree with the allegations raised by James. But to attack James and his counsel’s honesty and integrity under such tortured interpretations of the record is improper and an insult to the Court.”
Cases like this rarely go to trial---but the Hastert payoff matter has proven to be something of a Gordian knot of allegations and counter-allegations. Barring settlement, the case is now set for trial Sept. 23.