New accuser sues former speaker Dennis Hastert, alleging sexual abuse
By MARWA ELTAGOURI | Chicago Tribune | Published: May 28, 2017
CHICAGO (Tribune News Service) — Less than three months before Dennis Hastert's scheduled release from prison, a new accuser has come forward with allegations saying he was sodomized by Hastert decades ago, according to a lawsuit filed in Kendall County on Friday.
The lawsuit comes nearly two years after an explosive indictment into secret hush-money payments brought down Hastert, a local coaching legend who became one of the country's most powerful politicians. Federal prosecutors said the former U.S. House speaker touched at least five male students when he was a Yorkville High School coach from 1965 to 1981.
Hastert, 75, did not face sex-related charges because prosecutors said the statute of limitations had long expired. He instead admitted to committing a financial crime — withdrawing more than $950,000 from banks in a way that would avoid detection, in an effort to keep the victim quiet.
That victim, known as Individual A, is now a middle-age married man whom Hastert coached decades ago at Yorkville High School. He said Hastert agreed in 2010 to pay him $3.5 million if he didn't speak out about Hastert molesting him in the 1970s, when he was 14, while the two stayed overnight in a hotel room as part of a wrestling trip. The boy was not yet in high school at the time, but Hastert was close friends with his parents.
The new accuser, referred to in the lawsuit as Illinois resident "Richard Doe," is seeking $50,000 in damages from Hastert and Yorkville Community Unit School District 115 for charges including battery, negligent infliction of emotional distress and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
The accuser said that during the spring or summer of 1973 or 1974, he stopped by the Game Farm Building, now the Yorkville High School parking lot, to use the bathroom after riding his bike along Game Farm Road. He was 9 or 10 at the time, in fourth grade, the lawsuit alleges.
The accuser entered the bathroom and, while sitting on the toilet in a stall, heard a male voice mutter something outside the stall door, according to the lawsuit. The stall door opened, and he alleges he was sodomized.
When the assault was over, the attacker left. The accuser said he saw the man's face, but didn't recognize him.
Several weeks later, when the boy was in gym class at Yorkville Grade School, he saw a large man enter and walk diagonally across the gym toward the teacher. The boy recognized the man and, upon seeing him, began to shake and cry, according to the lawsuit.
The man spoke with the gym teacher and then approached the boy, taking him by the neck into the hallway, according to the lawsuit. The man dropped to his knees and asked the boy if he told anyone about the sexual assault. The boy, crying, said he hadn't. The man warned the accuser against reporting the attack and threatened that since his father was the sheriff, he could put the boy's parents in jail if he said anything.
The incident caused the accuser severe mental and emotional distress, which was only exacerbated by his fear of talking to someone about the attack, according to the lawsuit.
In 1984 or 1985, about a decade after the attack, the accuser visited the Kendall County State's Attorney's office to report the crime. He was 20 or 21 at the time, according to the lawsuit. He spoke with a longtime friend and political mentor to Hastert.
Upon hearing the accuser's story, a man there allegedly threatened to charge the accuser with a crime and accused him of slandering Hastert's name, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit argues that the threats were intended to benefit Hastert, whose political career was just taking off.
As Hastert rose to political prominence, the accuser attempted to suppress memories of the assault. But when Hastert was indicted in 2015, and as news stories began to circulate about Hastert's abuse of male students, the accuser realized he may have a claim against Hastert for his injuries, according to the lawsuit.
Hastert is currently serving 85 percent of a 15-month sentence at a federal prison in Rochester, Minn., for illegally structuring bank withdrawals in an attempt to avoid reporting requirements. He is due for parole Aug. 16, but that date could come sooner, perhaps in July, as factors like good behavior could shorten his sentence.
©2017 the Chicago Tribune
Visit the Chicago Tribune at www.chicagotribune.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.