On March 15, a Chicago hearing between U.S. District Judge Thomas Durkin and lawyers from both sides in the case of Wheaton alumnus and former Speaker of House Dennis Hastert turned secretive when Durkin requested to meet with the attorneys in his private chambers to avoid reporters who had entered the courtroom.
At the close of the meeting, both attorneys exited through a back elevator according to the Chicago Tribune. The judge’s court reporter stated that she recorded the discussion but it was ordered to be sealed.
Durkin had agreed to push back Hastert’s sentencing date to April 8 in light of Hastert’s poor health seven weeks ago. In the first week of November, just a few days after pleading guilty to evading federal banking laws, 74-year-old Hastert was hospitalized for a stroke, sepsis and two back operations.
Hastert’s attorneys quickly requested that the sentencing date, originally set for Feb. 29, be pushed back as he would have weeks of in-home care and rehab following his release from the hospital on Jan. 15. Prosecuting attorney Steven Block did not oppose the delay so long as the date was not pushed back indefinitely. Block wanted to ensure that the victims get closure.
Last May, Hastert was charged with structuring withdrawals for an “Individual A” in order to silence claims of sexual misconduct from decades ago. No information regarding the identity of this individual has been released except that he or she likely lived in Yorkville for most of his or her life, where Hastert worked as a high school teacher and wrestling coach for 16 years.
One alleged abuse victim was named last year by a family member, who said her brother told her he was sexually abused by Hastert during his time at Yorkville High School. The alleged victim, Steve Reinboldt, was the wrestling team manager for four years and a member of an Explorers troop led by Hastert.
His sister found out about the misconduct after Reinboldt, who identified as homosexual and died of AIDS in 1995, told her Hastert was his first same-sex experience.
Hastert could be given as little as probation or up to six months behind bars, depending on Durkin’s ruling in April.