Former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, a ‘64 Wheaton grad, filed a court claim Thursday asserting that millions of dollars he paid in hush money to keep victims quiet should be returned to him. Hastert is currently serving a 15-month prison sentence for banking violations regarding a sexual abuse scandal. He had formerly paid $1.7 million to “Individual A,” a former victim of his sexual abuse who has remained anonymous throughout the case and is currently suing Hastert for $1.8 million of an initially promised $3.5 million in hush money.
Hastert’s situation first started to unravel at the end of 2014. At that time, federal agents began questioning him about large cash withdrawals, which were made beginning in 2010, after he agreed to pay Individual A $3.5 million to silence allegations of sexual abuse from when Hastert worked as a wrestling coach at Yorkville High School — 30 miles west of Wheaton — between 1965 and 1981. Since the statute of limitations had run out for these abuse allegations by 2014, Hastert was indicted and accepted a plea deal not on charges of sexual abuse but on one charge of misreporting the “hush money” bank withdrawals and another charge of lying to the FBI about these withdrawals.
Though not officially found guilty of any sex crimes, the clear implication that such acts had occurred colored Hastert’s case all the way through his sentencing, during which Judge Thomas Durkin called him a “serial child molester.” Wheaton College responded to the case in “sadness and shock,” according to a 2015 press release, removing Hastert’s name from the Center for Economics, Government, and Public Policy “in light of the charges and allegations that have emerged.”
Hastert’s Thursday request was made public in the form of a counterclaim to the pending lawsuit against him from Individual A. The suit charges Hastert with breach of contract and says that he still owes Individual A the remaining $1.8 million in hush money.
Hastert maintains that the agreement he made with Individual A was an oral one and therefore not “valid and enforceable” by law. The counterclaim, filed in a Kendall County Circuit Court on January 19, denies Hastert’s responsibility for the remaining $1.8 million and asks that the suit be dismissed. Additionally, it asserts that “’s retention of the $1.7 million is unjust,” since in telling lawyers and court authorities about Hastert’s prior misconduct, Individual A breached the agreement of silence.
Individual A’s attorney, Kristi Brown, called Hastert’s counterclaim “predictable.”
“Mr. Hastert has decided that rather than live up to his promise to compensate his victim for his molestation and resulting injury, he will ask his victim to pay him,” Brown said in a statement. “We look forward to entering the discovery phase of this case.”
The case is slated for court in Kendall County on March 8, 2017.