Former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert was paying a man not to reveal that Hastert had sexually molested him decades earlier, according to media reports citing a variety of unnamed sources, including federal law enforcement officials.
Federal prosecutors on Thursday announced the indictment of Hastert on charges of violating banking laws in his effort to pay $3.5 million to someone to keep silent about “prior misconduct.” The individual is not identified. But the indictment notes that Hastert was a high school teacher and wrestling coach in the Chicago suburb of Yorkville, Illinois, from 1965 to 1981.
Hastert was charged with making cash withdrawals in increments small enough to avoid bank reporting requirements and for lying to federal officials about the purpose of the withdrawals.
The indictment says that from 2010 to 2012, Hastert made 15 withdrawals of $50,000 each from bank accounts and paid the money to a person referred to as "Individual A" about every six weeks.
Officials say the indictment against Hastert has nothing to do with his time in office in the U.S. Congress.
A Republican congressman from Illinois, Hastert served as speaker of the House of Representatives from 1999 to 2007.
The speaker is second in line to take over the presidency of the U.S. after the vice president.
Current House Speaker John Boehner said in a statement Friday that he was “shocked and saddened” to learn of the charges against Hastert.
“The Denny I served with worked hard on behalf of his constituents and the country,” he said.