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A Chair In The Shower Room, A Portrait On The Capitol Wall, What’s Next For Hastert? Prison Bars?

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A Chair In The Shower Room, A Portrait On The Capitol Wall, What’s Next For Hastert? Prison Bars?

Former U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Dennis Hastert is surrounded by officers as he leaves federal court after pleading not guilty to federal charges of trying to hide large cash transactions and lying to the FBI in Chicago, Illinois, United States, June 9, 2015. REUTERS/Jim Young

Once upon a time, Dennis Hastert looked forward to being the longest-serving Republican speaker of the House of Representatives.

Today he is likelier to be remembered for his reclining chair.

As a document filed in federal court in Illinois recently put it, as a high-school wrestling coach, Hastert put a La-Z-Boy-type “chair in direct view of the shower stalls in the locker room where he sat while the boys showered.”

Hastert told people he put it there to keep the boys from fighting. Prosecutors believe that Hastert put it there for the view.

And just when Hastert thought things could not get worse — they got worse. Last week, federal prosecutors released graphic accusations detailing how Hastert sexually abused at least four students who were on his wrestling team.

You would think keeping a large chair in a locker room would raise a few eyebrows. But it didn’t. That was the point. Hastert was practically worshipped at his school and in his town.

“Defendant was not just a teacher and coach,” the prosecutors said in the court filing. “Defendant was famous in Yorkville as the beloved coach of the state champion wrestling team; the leader of a boys’ club that took trips to the Grand Canyon and the Bahamas; and the popular teacher who gave kids rides in his Porsche.”

After the 26-page document by prosecutors became public a few days ago, Andy Richter, sidekick to late-night comic Conan O’Brien, posted a series of tweets:

–“I went to Yorkville HS ’80-’84 & I remember this chair. Purportedly ‘to keep boys from fighting.'”

–“I haven’t thought of it in 30 yrs.”

–“tbh (to be honest), I don’t find it’s upsetting me now. I’m just so struck by how easy it was to do that. Nobody questioned it.”

The only alleged victim of Hastert’s to be named so far is Steve Reinboldt, an equipment manager of the team. In 1979, years after he was out of high school, Reinboldt told his sister that Hastert abused him for four years. His sister asked him why he had not spoken up sooner.

“And he just turned around and kind of looked at me and said, ‘Who is ever going to believe me?'” Reinboldt’s sister said. Reinboldt died in 1995.

“Mr. Hastert is deeply sorry and apologizes for his misconduct that occurred decades ago and the resulting harm he caused to others,” his lawyers have said in a court filing. “Mr. Hastert’s fall from grace has been swift and devastating.”

So much time has passed since Hastert’s alleged abuse of the students that he can no longer be charged for sex crimes. But though Hastert does not dispute all of the sexual acts contained in the federal documents, his lawyers are trying to spin the case as one of a retired, sickly 74-year-old man who has had a stroke and who has been punished enough.

Hastert, who went to an evangelical Christian college and received a 100 percent score from the Christian Coalition of America when he was in public life, is due to be sentenced April 27, at which time one of his victims may testify against him.

To the judge hearing the case, Hastert’s lawyers have written, “We respectfully request that the Court consider the humiliation and isolation that Mr. Hastert and his family have already suffered when determining his sentence.” Hastert served as House speaker for eight years, and now he has been brought low.

After all, his lawyers say, Hastert’s name has “become forever tainted,” and he has been “stung by the public repudiations of him that followed his indictment, including the removal of his portrait from the United States Capitol.”

It is difficult, however, to compare having your portrait taken off a wall to having been sexually abused as a teenager for a period of years.

And the prosecution fired back: “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. Some have managed better than others, but all of them carry the scars defendant inflicted upon them.”

Hastert’s attorneys are seeking a sentence of probation without prison time.

Prosecutors are asking the judge to send Hastert to prison for up to six months.

Hastert himself? He said in a statement in 2003, when he was speaker of the House, “It is equally important to stop those predators before they strike, to put repeat child molesters into jail for the rest of their lives.”

Hastert may have changed his mind about that.

Roger Simon is Politico’s chief political columnist. His new e-book, “Reckoning: Campaign 2012 and the Fight for the Soul of America,” can be found on Amazon.com, BN.com and iTunes. To find out more about Roger Simon and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Web page at www.creators.com.


Photo: Former U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Dennis Hastert is surrounded by officers as he leaves federal court after pleading not guilty to federal charges of trying to hide large cash transactions and lying to the FBI in Chicago, Illinois, United States, June 9, 2015. REUTERS/Jim Young  



  1. TZToronto April 13, 2016

    Methinks he doth protest too much. I recall a man in my home town who, while still alive, had a recreation center named after him. A number of years later, he was found to have been molesting children for years. His name was removed from the center. I wonder how many molested children had told someone about the molestations but were not believed. Predators know that they have a double protection from being revealed–their victims won’t tell, and if they do tell, they won’t be believed, especially if the predator has done something of value in the community. These days, if you are going to be working around children, you usually have to have a police check done (in Canada, at least).

    1. Helen Randolph April 13, 2016

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      1. yabbed April 13, 2016

        Flagged as spam.

    2. FireBaron April 13, 2016

      In the States, too. One organization I belonged to had a fairly strong youth program. I was in charge of it for the Northeast US and Eastern Canada. One rule I strongly enforced was the “two non-related adults” rule when working with anyone other than your own children. Then we found out that one of our workers had been holding “private sessions” at his house. Turns out he was molesting kids. He is now a guest of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections. As a result of that, we enforced background checks for all of our volunteers who work with anyone under the age of 18. Those in Pennsylvania have even stricter requirements as a result of this and numerous other incidents.
      And, frankly, I am more than happy to make sure the general population is aware that someone is a child molester. It usually saves the state a lot of money in the long run.

  2. FireBaron April 13, 2016

    To repeat my often used mantra, “Conservative Christian, Republican Family Values”. I guess they mean something else to them that’s different from us Liberal Democrats. Someone recently pointed out you are more likely to be molested in a public restroom by a Conservative Republican than by a LGBT person.

  3. CrankyToo April 13, 2016

    What does the former Speaker of the United States House of Representatives have in common with the manager down at Walmart? Boys underwear, half off.

  4. 1standlastword April 13, 2016

    Dennis Hastert is the embodiment of the GOP that has be doing to all of America what Dennis did to his boys so as Hastert goes so goes the republican brand and this could not be more true!

    1. itsfun April 13, 2016

      How anyone can make this crime a political issue is wrong. Neither side of the aisle has a monopoly of sickies and criminals. This man shouldn’t go to prison for 6 months, instead he should go to prison for 60 years.

  5. yabbed April 13, 2016

    He needs to go to prison for as long as it is possible to sentence him.

  6. Otto T. Goat April 13, 2016

    Liberals want to make what he did legal and socially acceptable.

    1. tomtype April 13, 2016

      Which is why he is being prosecuted? I haven’t heard anyone of any stripe endorse child abuse. Is this another one of your fantasies?

    2. iamproteus April 13, 2016

      Otto, that is YOUR opinion……and we all know how little YOUR opinion is worth! Why do you insist upon saying such stupid things?

    3. stcroixcarp April 13, 2016

      No, liberals do not want to make sex with children legal and socially acceptable. Liberals want to make sure that children are adequately fed, housed and are safe when they are born into this world.

    4. Aaron_of_Portsmouth April 14, 2016

      What do you want, Otto? Are you content with the aberrant behavior this perverted individual committed? You may not realize this(perhaps because of lack of a proper upbringing), but it doesn’t matter if it’s a liberal or a conservative.
      Once again your dull vision fails to recognize the most salient feature of stories presented in the news in general. Maybe you should consult the “IQ” oracle to gain better insight. That monochrome mind(“black” and “white”) stifles your intellect.

    5. Robert Kaufman April 14, 2016

      Otto, are you always wrong about everything? Or only on days ending in Y?

  7. Dominick Vila April 13, 2016

    Another Immoral Minority member bites the dust.

  8. charleo1 April 13, 2016

    If you think Hastert’s record of child molestation as a teacher was unforgivable, check out his record of what he did to the country as a politician. See if you can figure out which is worse. It’s very close.


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