CHICAGO (CBS) — Victim.
That is the word former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert is using to describe himself, one day after he was indicted on charges that he illegally attempted to conceal bank withdrawals. That cash used to pay hush money to a former student–a male who was sexually abused by Hastert when he was a high school teacher and coach, according to federal sources.
CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports, Hastert was neither been seen or heard from publicly on Friday, but he has told close friends that he was sorry people had to go though this ordeal.
“I am a victim, too,” Hastert told them.
Hastert’s first words to associates were in response to charges of illegally withdrawing money to pay $3.5 million in hush money to a man to compensate and conceal prior misconduct. Hastert had actually paid the man $1.7 million, according to the indictment.
Published reports say that misconduct involves an abusive sexual encounter, which happened sometime before Hastert entered politics in the early 1980s.
According to the federal indictment, Hastert and the individual agreed to the payments in 2010.
Hastert began making $50,000 withdrawals from three banks. Any transaction above $10,000 is required to be reported to the federal government. He then began to structure the withdrawals to less than $10,000 to avoid scrutiny, prosecutors said.
Patrick Collins, the former first assistant U.S attorney here in Chicago, was able to read between the lines of the federal indictment, which states: “From approximately 1965 to 1981, defendant John Dennis Hastert was a high school teacher and coach in Yorkville.”
“Given the way the government [issued] the indictment, with reference to days as a high school teacher and coach, it has to do with that period of time,” Collins said.
The Yorkville school district today said it “has no knowledge of Mr. Hastert’s alleged misconduct.”
CBS 2 spoke to nearly a dozen of Hastert’s closest associates on Friday. All of them appear dumbfounded by the revelations.
One former chief of staff called the allegations unimaginable and sickening.
If Hastert had a dark side, it was a very well kept secret.