CHICAGO (STMW) — The sordid secrets in Dennis Hastert’s past began to fully unravel in March 2015, when federal agents approached one of his alleged victims to find out why Hastert was paying him hundreds of thousands of dollars, documents show.
That man, known publicly only as Individual A, had struck a $3.5 million hush-money deal with the now-imprisoned former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, agreeing not to tell the world that he had been sexually molested by Hastert as a 14-year-old. But Individual A managed to collect only $1.7 million before the feds blew the lid off the deal with a bombshell indictment last year. So Individual A sued Hastert for the remaining $1.8 million.
Now, Hastert’s lawyers say the breach-of-contract lawsuit should be thrown out, in part, because Individual A didn’t keep his end of the bargain — and told the feds what they wanted to know.
“Plaintiff agreed to refrain from filing a personal injury suit arising out of decades-old conduct and further agreed to refrain from seeking ‘public acknowledgement’ of that conduct in exchange for Defendant’s promise to pay him $3,500,000,” Hastert attorney John C. Ellis wrote in a court filing earlier this month.
Federal court records indicate Hastert first told the feds he was the victim of an extortion plot in February 2015 — a month before agents approached Individual A — claiming the former Yorkville High School wrestler had demanded $3.5 million over an alleged “false claim.” Hastert agreed to let agents record two of his phone conversations with Individual A the following month. Agents approached Individual A after they became suspicious of Hastert’s claims.
But Hastert’s legal team is now pointing to Individual A’s breach of confidentiality as a reason his lawsuit, filed in Kendall County, should be tossed.
That argument suggests Individual A would have been forced to either not cooperate with the feds or commit the crime of lying to federal authorities in order to hold up his end of the bargain.
Ellis also argues that Individual A had no personal-injury claim when he first approached Hastert decades after the abuse because time limits for bringing such a claim had already passed.
Ellis further argued that any agreement that takes more than a year to perform must be in writing under Illinois law, and he said a deal to sell silence “is void, contrary to public policy and unenforceable.”
Hastert’s lawyer appeared briefly before Kendall County Judge Robert Pilmer on Monday. The judge scheduled an Oct. 13 hearing on Hastert’s bid to dismiss the lawsuit. Afterward, Ellis declined to comment on the hearing. An attorney for Individual A did not appear in court.
A month has passed since Hastert, 74, wheeled himself into the Rochester Federal Medical Center in southeast Minnesota, where he is serving a 15-month prison sentence for breaking the law while trying to conceal his past sexual abuse of teenage boys.
His fall from grace began in May 2015, when he was hit with the bombshell criminal indictment that accused him of illegally structuring bank withdrawals and lying to the FBI. He pleaded guilty to the structuring and acknowledged the lying last October. Then, during his sentencing hearing last April, he admitted to the judge that he sexually abused children in the 1970s.
Individual A found himself at the center of Hastert’s criminal case. He claims he was molested in a motel room by Hastert when he was 14 and later finalized a $3.5 million deal with Hastert to keep quiet about it in 2010. Individual A claims the men had a spoken contract because Hastert wanted nothing in writing. However, Hastert wound up acknowledging the pact in his plea agreement with federal prosecutors.
Hastert was a “trusted friend” of Individual A’s family, according to Individual A’s lawsuit. And though Individual A had yet to start high school at the time of the alleged abuse, Hastert offered to take him to a high school wrestling camp, it said.
That’s when Hastert “violated” the trust Individual A had placed in Hastert by “sexually molesting and abusing” Individual A in a motel room, according to the complaint. For years, Individual A “suffered severe panic attacks which lead to periods of unemployment, career changes, bouts of depressions, hospitalization, and long-term psychiatric treatment,” it said.
Individual A’s lawyer has said he views the spoken agreement between the two men as a personal injury settlement. The feds say Hastert passed Individual A the cash first in his Yorkville office and later in a store parking lot.
(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2016. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)