A man abused by Dennis Hastert decades ago will be able to pursue his lawsuit against the now-incarcerated former congressman, a Kendall County judge has ruled.
Attorneys for the former House speaker had sought to dismiss of the breach-of-contract lawsuit seeking to collect the balance of the $3.5 million Hastert agreed to pay to buy the silence of the man.
Hastert is serving a 15-month sentence at a Minnesota federal prison for financial crimes related to making the hush money payments. He was not in the Kendall County courtroom last month as Judge Robert Pilmer heard arguments on a motion by Hastert’s lawyers seeking to have the lawsuit thrown out. Also absent was Hastert’s victim, named in the lawsuit as John Doe, and identified in Hastert’s criminal case as Individual A.
Hastert’s lawyer, John Ellis, argued at that hearing that the deal was invalid to begin with, but in his ruling, filed Monday, Pilmer wrote that the plaintiff had established “the necessary elements to allege a claim for contract” and had “sufficiently alleged the existence of consideration for a contract to survive a motion to dismiss.”
Hastert’s attorneys now have four weeks from Monday to file a response to the lawsuit. The next hearing in the case is scheduled for Jan. 18.
It was Hastert’s cash payments to the victim that led to his downfall. The victim answered questions from the FBI and federal prosecutors, who were investigating a series of large bank withdrawals that Hastert made to hand over the cash to Doe. In total, Hastert paid out $1.7 million from 2010 to 2014, most made in payments slightly less than the $10,000 that triggers an alert to banking regulators.
Kristi Browne, the lawyer for the victim, has said her client had to answer questions from federal investigators after Hastert told the FBI that Doe was blackmailing him.
“My client didn’t disclose anything until the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office then approached him, and then, y’know, he was under a legal obligation to answer the questions,” Browne said last month.
Browne has said her client was not extorting Hastert but approached the former House speaker in 2010 seeking compensation for the trauma he’d suffered in the decades since Hastert assaulted him when the man, now middle-aged, was a teenager on the Yorkville wrestling team.
“Mr. Hastert still owes my client $1.8 million dollars under the terms of this agreement. He agreed to pay him $3.5 million dollars and he hasn’t done that.”
Hastert quit his teaching job when he took a spot in the state legislature, then went on to become the longest-serving Republican Speaker of the House. Hastert resigned from Congress in 2007 and began a lucrative career as a lobbyist.
Hastert pleaded guilty to federal charges of structuring financial transaction to hide money he was paying to Doe. At his sentencing hearing last spring, Hastert admitted to molesting several former students, including Scott Cross, the brother of Illinois House minority leader Tom Cross, who testified at the sentencing hearing. Doe did not testify at Hastert’s sentencing and has refused media requests for interviews.