Judge: Hastert’s sexual abuse accuser to be named at trial

Posted at 8:46 PM, September 10, 2021 and last updated 8:05 PM, June 14, 2023

YORKVILLE, Ill. (AP) — A man who accused Dennis Hastert of child sexual abuse then sued the former U.S. House speaker for refusing to pay $1.8m in exchange for his silence will be named in court if his case goes to trial this month, a judge ruled.

The man has been referred to only as James Doe in court papers since the breach of contract lawsuit was filed in 2016. But during a hearing on Thursday, Kendall County Chief Judge Robert Pilmer agreed with Hastert’s attorney that the man’s name must be made public at trial, the Chicago Tribune reported.

The man says Hastert paid him only about half of the promised $3.5 million in hush money. An attorney for Hastert’s accuser has said publicizing his name would cause “great psychological damage to him in the form of shame and embarrassment.”

After the ruling, attorney Kristi Brown said she and her client were disappointed but had prepared for such a decision.

“It doesn’t change that we intend to go forward with the trial,” she said. Jury selection is scheduled to begin Sept. 20.

Hastert was one of the most powerful politicians in the nation and the longest-serving Republican House speaker in American history when he stepped down from office in 2007, but revelations about the hush money agreement were at the center of a case that led to criminal charges against him years later.

His accuser alleges that Hastert sexually abused him when he was a 14-year-old student athlete and Hastert was a wrestling coach at a high school in Yorkville, Illinois, in the 1970s.

Hastert, who was not charged with any sex crimes, in part because the statute of limitations had run out, has denied having any sexual contact with his accuser. In a 2018 deposition, Hastert explained he was treating the teenager for a groin injury.

Hastert had already paid the man about $1.7 million but stopped in 2014 when federal authorities, asked him about what appeared to be suspicious bank withdrawals. The discovery of the payment agreement led to Hastert pleading guilty in 2015 to breaking banking laws for making the secret payments. He served one year in prison.