Prosecutors detail Dennis Hastert's alleged abuse of teenagers.

Prosecutors Detail Former House Speaker Hastert's Alleged Sex Abuse of Teen Boys

Prosecutors Detail Former House Speaker Hastert's Alleged Sex Abuse of Teen Boys

The Slatest
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April 9 2016 10:42 AM

Prosecutors Detail Former House Speaker Hastert's Alleged Sex Abuse of Teen Boys

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Former Republican Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert arrives for his arraignment at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse on June 9, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois.

Scott Olson/Getty Images

Federal prosecutors provided for the first time a detailed account of the sexual abuse allegations against former House speaker Dennis Hastert, giving a stunning account of the accusations against the former Washington power player when he was a wrestling coach at a high school in Illinois. With the filing, prosecutors for the first time confirmed that Hastert, 74, had paid money to keep the alleged sexual abuse under wraps.

The stunning document was submitted in advance of Hastert’s April 27 sentencing in a financial violation case. Hastert is not being charged with abuse because of statutes of limitation but he pleaded guilty last year to illegally structuring bank withdrawals to pay one of his victims.

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The filing made late Friday graphically details how Hastert sexually molested or at least touched inappropriately five teenagers. They all struggled later in life even as Hastert rose to power in the Republican Party and eventually rose to be second in line to the presidency. “He made them feel alone, ashamed, guilty and devoid of dignity,” prosecutors wrote. “While defendant achieved great success, reaping all the benefits that went with it, these boys struggled, and all are still struggling now with what defendant did to them.”

The New York Times details the alleged abuse:

According to the prosecutors, Mr. Hastert gave one boy, a 14-year-old freshman wrestler, a massage in the locker room, then performed an unspecified sex act on him. Another boy, Stephen Reinboldt, who died in 1995, was sexually abused by Mr. Hastert throughout high school in the late 1960s and early 1970s, his sister and others told the prosecutors. A third boy, who was 17 and remembered Mr. Hastert sitting in a recliner-type chair with a direct view of the locker room shower stalls, said Mr. Hastert had told him that one way to make his wrestling weight was to get a massage, then performed a sexual act. And prosecutors said Mr. Hastert had massaged another boy’s groin area after asking the boy to stay in his hotel room during a wrestling camp.

The fifth boy claims Hastert brushed his genitals after a practice and it was “very weird” but he couldn’t say whether it was done intentionally.

The claim that Hastert had set up a Lazyboy-type reclining chair in direct view of the shower stalls was confirmed by other former wrestlers who talked to the Chicago Tribune. And on Friday night, comedian Andy Richter took to Twitter to say that he remembered that chair. Richter, who went to Yorkville High School from 1980 to 1984, said it was “purportedly ‘to keep boys from fighting.’”

Hastert’s attorney say the former House speaker was “profoundly sorry” for his actions and have called on the judge to give him probation rather than prison time considering his years of public service and the severe public shame he has already endured. The prosecutors, meanwhile, have also called on Hastert to be evaluated as a sex offender once he serves his sentence.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the Today’s Papers column from 2006 to 2009. Follow him on Twitter.