Dennis Hastert sentenced to 15 months in prison

The former Speaker of the House has been sentenced to prison amidst allegations of sex abuse and bank fraud.

By Bronte Price, PoliticKING

Dennis Hastert, former House Speaker has been sentenced to 15 months in prison after admitting in court Wednesday that he sexually abused at least two students when during his time as a teacher and wrestling coach at Yorkville High School in Illinois, until 1981. Hastert previously pleaded guilty to circumventing financial laws while making secret payments to one of his victims. The former House Speaker was not charged with sexual abuse because of statute-of-limitations. In addition to 15 months in prison, Hastert has been sentenced to two years of supervised release and will be required to comply with a sex offender treatment program.

The case hinged on the testimony of Scott Cross, a former Yorkville High School wrestling student and one of Hastert’s accusers.

Cross said that Hastert had "offered massages" to him in order to help him lose weight.  He described the incident which happened when he was 17, saying that Hastert "grabbed my penis and began to rub me. Stunned, I pulled up my shorts and ran out of the locker room.”

Cross explained that he had decided to testify after Hastert and his defense team reached out to his brother, Illinois politician Tom Cross, for a letter of support.

Hastert approached the judge in court today and offered his form of an apology. “I am deeply ashamed to be standing here today,” he said. “I know I am here because I mistreated some of my athletes that I coached... I want to apologize to the boys I mistreated. I was wrong and I accept that.”

Thomas Durkin, who was the judge in Hastert's case, called Hastert a "serial child molester" during sentencing.

Hastert pleaded guilty in October to a single count of making illegally structured bank withdrawals.  He acknowledged that the transactions were made as part an effort to pay off a man, who is referred to in court documents as "Individual A," for “past transgressions.”

Individual A, who did not testify Wednesday, told prosecutors that Hastert molested him at a motel during his time as a high school athlete. According to Individual A, Hastert and a group of boys were on their way back to Yorkville, Ill., from a wrestling camp when the incident happened. The victim was 14 years old at the time of the incident.

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