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Former US House Speaker Linked to Sexual Abuse

  • VOA News

FILE - Former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert leaves the federal courthouse, Oct. 28, 2015, in Chicago, Illinois, where he changed his plea to guilty in a hush-money case that alleges he agreed to pay someone $3.5 million to hide claims of past misconduct.

FILE - Former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert leaves the federal courthouse, Oct. 28, 2015, in Chicago, Illinois, where he changed his plea to guilty in a hush-money case that alleges he agreed to pay someone $3.5 million to hide claims of past misconduct.

Prosecutors say former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Dennis Hastert molested at least five teenage boys when he was a high school wrestling coach and then agreed to pay one of them $3.5 million to keep quiet about the abuse.

The accusations emerged late Friday in a court filing detailing the accusations of abuse by five of Hastert's former students.

The filing recommends that a federal judge sentence the 74-year-old Hastert, once second in line to the U.S. presidency, to as much as six months in prison for violating banking laws to pay his alleged former victim. Hastert has recently been in ill health, according to his legal team, but prosecutors say he could continue to get medical care while incarcerated.

The statutes of limitations on the abuse accusations passed years ago. Hastert taught and coached at a high school in the state of Illinois from 1965 to 1981.

October conviction

Hastert was convicted in October of breaking banking laws by illegally concealing large withdrawals of cash from his account. But the link to sexual abuse was only revealed by prosecutors in March after nearly a year of secrecy about the cause of the charges against him.

In their filing, the prosecutors said Hastert's long political history is "marred by stunning hypocrisy," and added that he made his victims "feel alone, ashamed, guilty, and devoid of dignity."

The alleged victims said Hastert touched them inappropriately under the guise of giving them massages for wrestling injuries. One of the alleged victims died in 1996. Members of his family say he suffered continued abuse throughout his time in high school.

Hastert's lawyers have not yet made a statement in response to the new information.

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