Dennis Hastert, Former House Speaker, Sentenced to 15 Months in Prison

His charges stemmed from illegally structuring bank accounts in order to pay hush money to people accusing him of sexual abuse.

Image via Chicago Tribune

J. Dennis Hastert, the disgraced former House speaker and law lobbyist who was accused of molesting at least four boys, has been sentenced to 15 months in prison.

Hastert, who for a time was one of the most powerful men in American politics, apologized to the victims in court before his sentencing.  One of his victims broke a lifetime of silence in order to testify against him at the hearing:

“Nothing is worse than using serial child molester and speaker of the House in the same sentence,” said the judge, who used his discretion to go well beyond the six-month prison term prosecutors had recommended.

“I hope I never see a case like this again.”

Before he learned his fate, Hastert apologized “to the boys I mistreated when I was their coach” but pointedly did not use word abuse.

“What I did was wrong and I regret it,” he testified. “They looked up to me and I took advantage of them.”

One of the ex-students, Scott Cross, took the stand and told the court that when he was a senior in high school in 1979, Hastert pulled off his shorts and sexually fondled him during a massage after a workout.

“As a 17-year-old boy I was devastated. I tried to figure out why Coach Hastert had singled me out. I felt terribly alone,” Cross, who is called Individual D in court papers, testified. “Today I understand I did nothing to bring this on, but at age 17, I could not understand what happened or why.”

Scott Cross, or “Individual D,” is the brother of Hastert’s political ally Tom Cross, the former, long-term Illinois House GOP leader.

Hastert was sentenced for illegally structuring bank transactions in order to send hush money to his accusers. He was not convicted of any crimes of sexual abuse, because the statute of limitations on those crimes had already expired.  However, he is required to comply with a sex offender treatment program upon his release.

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