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For now, Individual ‘A’ remains anonymous as lawsuit proceeds

Yorkville High school Social Studies Teacher Dennis Hastert

Yorkville High school Social Studies Teacher Dennis Hastert from the high school's 1975 yearbook.

A Kendall County judge on Thursday made no final decision whether a man Dennis Hastert paid to cover up decades-old sexual abuse can remain anonymous as he sues the former U.S. House speaker.

Identified by federal prosecutors only as “Individual A,” and filing his suit as “James Doe,” the man who collected $1.7 million from Hastert before prosecutors snared the once-powerful Republican has sued Hastert for the remaining $1.8 million, plus interest.

A hearing was held Thursday morning on the issue of whether the breach-of-contract lawsuit can continue with the plaintiff identified only as “James Doe,” and Judge Robert Pilmer made no final decision on that point.

He told the plaintiff’s attorney, Kristi Browne, her client can proceed anonymously for now but told her also to re-file the complaint, under seal, with her client’s name on it.

That, supposedly, would give Hastert’s attorneys more time to object, though they have not yet done so. The suit was filed Monday.

If the judge denies Browne’s motion and orders her client to reveal himself, she said “I would anticipate a quick appeal.”

Hastert was served with a copy of the lawsuit at his home on Monday, Browne said. The judge indicated he wants to know the name of Individual “A” to, at the very least, make sure there is no conflict of interest.

No one appeared on Hastert’s behalf at the hearing.

A federal judge sentenced Hastert, 74, to 15 months in prison Wednesday, calling the former speaker a “serial child molester” and forcing him to admit he sexually abused students decades ago at Yorkville High School.

The dramatic two-hour hearing at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse also included testimony from Scott Cross, who for the first time revealed himself to be the person previously known in court papers only as Individual D. Cross, the brother of former state House GOP leader Tom Cross, testified that Hastert molested him when he stayed after school one night to cut weight for the wrestling team.

The sister of another victim, the late Stephen Reinboldt, also testified.

But the man at the center of Hastert’s May 2015 indictment, the so-called Individual A, did not appear at that hearing and has sought to keep his identity a secret. Hastert agreed in 2010 to pay him $3.5 million in hush-money to keep quiet about sexual abuse allegations. But Hastert’s suspicious bank withdrawals as he worked to make good on that deal eventually led to his undoing.

Those withdrawals eventually caught the attention of federal investigators. And the FBI confronted Hastert before he could make good on the hush-money deal. Hastert paid only $1.7 million to Individual A, and Individual A sued him Monday for the remaining $1.8 million.

Because the statutes of limitations have long run out on any sexual abuse allegations, federal prosecutors could only force Hastert to plead guilty last fall to illegally structuring his bank withdrawals to avoid raising red flags.