Former Speaker Hastert Seeks To Avoid Prison Sentence

| by Robert Fowler
Former Republican House Speaker Dennis HastertFormer Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert

The attorneys for the longest-serving Republican House speaker in U.S. history, former Rep. Dennis Hastert of Illinois, have asked leniency in his sentencing for violating federal banking laws. Hastert had been paying hush money to a former student he had sexually abused. At the same time, revelations that he may have abused more boys emerged on April 7.

On April 6, Haster’s attorneys gave a statement of apology for the former House speaker and asked a federal judge to give their client probation for his offense, rather than a prison sentence, CNN reports.

“First and foremost, Mr. Hastert is deeply sorry and apologizes for his misconduct that occurred decades ago and resulting harm he caused to others,” Hastert’s attorneys wrote in their statement.

Decades before he became the House speaker, Hastert was a wrestling coach in Yorkville, Illinois. The misconduct he apologized for in court was that he had allegedly molested one of his students.

For years, Hastert paid off his former student to not make the accusations public. In an effort to avoid the scrutiny of federal reporting requirements, Hastert had made 106 separate bank withdrawals to amass $952,000 in payments, Politico reports.

Hastert made a plea deal in 2015. Prosecutors have only sought a sentence of zero to six months in jail, although a federal judge is allowed to make a harsher ruling.

Hastert’s attorneys asked the judge to take Hastert’s years of public service and his ailing health into account. They argued that the public humiliation he had suffered was punishment enough, according to The Huffington Post.

“He knows that, for the rest of his life, wherever he goes, the public warmth and affection that he previously received will be replaced by hostility and isolation,” Hastert’s attorneys wrote.

“Mr. Hastert recognizes that this change is due to his own conduct and is not in any way the fault of others, who rightly disapprove, but iti is nonetheless painful for him,” the attorneys added.

On April 7, the Chicago Tribune revealed that three other former students of Hastert made accusations of sexual molestation, accounts that Illinois law enforcement found credible.

One of Hastert’s accusers died decades ago, but his sister will testify in court that Hastert had sexually abused her brother.

Among other revelations is that Hastert had contacted a family member of one of his alleged victims to request a character reference.

Hastert is scheduled to be sentenced in April 27. The statute of limitations for his alleged sexual abuse of students has already been reached and he cannot be tried for those alleged crimes.

Sources: Chicago Tribune, CNNThe Huffington PostPolitico / Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

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