Alleged Dennis Hastert sex abuse victim identified by sister

SHARE Alleged Dennis Hastert sex abuse victim identified by sister

WASHINGTON — When former House Speaker Dennis Hastert was a high school teacher and wrestling coach in Yorkville, he allegedly sexually abused a male student over a period of years, the sister of the now-deceased man told ABC News in a story broadcast on Friday.

The man, Steve Reinboldt, was a student equipment manager for the wrestling team who graduated from Yorkville High School in 1971. He died of AIDS in 1995.

Jolene Burdge, Reinboldt’s sister, who now lives in Billings, Mont., told ABC News her brother revealed the abuse in 1979, when he told her he was gay.

Burdge said that she was “stunned” when her brother came out to her and she asked about his first same-sex experience. He said “it was with Dennis Hastert.”

Hastert was a teacher and wrestling coach in Yorkville between 1965 and 1981, before he started a political career that took him to Springfield and then to Washington.

When Burdge asked him why he never told anyone, “he just turned around and kind of looked at me and said, ‘Who is ever going to believe me?’ ”

She said in an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Friday that two weeks ago FBI investigators contacted her about Hastert.

Hastert was indicted May 28, charged with illegal structuring of cash withdrawals and lying to FBI agents, after taking out $1.7 million in cash from several banks to pay hush money to a man – identified only as “Individual A” – who was a victim of alleged sexual misconduct decades ago. Hastert had promised to pay “Individual A” a total of $3.5 million.

There are now allegations of three Hastert victims: Reinboldt, “Individual A,” a man from Yorkville who has not been publicly identified as well as another man, questioned by the FBI, that the Sun-Times reported on last week.

On May 28 Burdge posted a news story about the Hastert indictment on her Facebook page where she added a comment: “I can say with absolute certainty there is sooo much more to this story. Finally the truth . . . ”

The former speaker, who has homes in the Chicago suburb of Plano and in western Wisconsin, has not been seen in public since the indictment was announced. He resigned from the law firm where he ran the lobbying practice from two corporate boards.

Hastert is scheduled to appear in court for the first time since the federal indictment on Tuesday, in Chicago.

A call for comment to Hastert’s attorney son, Ethan, was not returned. Former close associates to Hastert interviewed by the Sun-Times on Friday were stunned at the latest allegations.

In a report by ABC’s Brian Ross, Rhonda Schwartz and John Capell, Reinboldt’s sister said Hastert showed up at his funeral.

“I was just there just trying to bite my tongue thinking that blood was coming out because I was just . . . So after he had gone through the line I followed him out into the parking lot of the funeral home,” Burdge said.

“I said, ‘I want to know why you did what you did to my brother.’ And he just stood there and stared at me. He didn’t say, ‘What are you talking about?’ you know, [or], ‘What? I don’t know what you’re talking about.’ He just stood there and stared at me.

“Then I just continued to say, ‘I want you to know your secret didn’t die in there with my brother. And I want you to remember that I’m out here and that I know.’ And again, he just stood there and he did not say a word.” Hastert got in his car and drove away. Jolene said Hastert’s non-response “said everything.”

Burdge took her accusations of Hastert sexual abuse to ABC News and to the Associated Press in 2006, when Hastert, then the speaker, was on the defensive over the handling of former Rep. Mark Foley, R-Fl., who was texting sexually explicit messages to an underage male Senate Page.

Hastert denied any wrongdoing to ABC News at the time, and Burdge’s claim could not be corroborated.

Hastert was indicted a few days after the FBI contacted Jolene and she watched the news reports with her husband.

“That’s when I just kind of lost it and said, ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe – I never thought I was going to get this phone call . . . I thought it was over,’” she told ABC.

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