Dennis Hastert Pleads Not Guilty To Charges of Sexual Abuse
Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) made his first appearance since his indictment on federal charges last month, pleading not guilty for paying someone $3.5 million to keep quiet regarding a past misconduct during his career as an Illinois high school teacher.
According to The Huffington Post, Hastert was required to undergo a DNA test as part of the conditions for his release, in addition to surrendering his passport and removing any firearms he kept at his property. Thomas Green, a prominent Washington, D.C., white-collar defense attorney with the Sidley Austin law firm, who represents Hastert asked for another two weeks to fulfill the requirement as the firearms were kept in safes on Hastert’s property by his two sons; one of them was traveling in Europe while the other lives in Chicago, where it is difficult to keep a weapon in possession because of strict gun rules.
The charges against the former congressman have not just arisen by a paper trail, but also by his own mouth, as reported by NBC News.
Paul Caron, a professor at Pepperdine University School of Law, said, “The paper trail is not his biggest problem. The biggest problem is that he ran his mouth when first questioned by the FBI (last year), which opened himself up to these charges.
“Had he just shut up when questioned, the government would have a much more difficult time proving the (evading) charge. And the lying charge would disappear.”
According to the federal indictment, Hastert had paid $3.5 million in payments in 2010 to “Individual A” for concealing a past misconduct.
Although the details of the allegations have not been surfaced publicly, Hastert had paid the mammoth sum of money to cover up a sexual misconduct during his time as a teacher and coach in Yorkville, Illinois, from 1965 until 1981.
The sister of the now deceased sexual abuse victim, who was a student at the Yorkville High School, identified Hastert as the abuser. However, with the expiration of the statute of limitations, it is unlikely that any sexual abuse accusations will lead to criminal charges.
Stephen Gillers, a law professor at New York University, said, “I think the government may see the (bank withdrawal) structuring charge as a way to punish Hastert for the crime that can no longer be prosecuted.”
Hastert made in excess of 100 withdrawals from his bank account of under $10,000, something that Gillers says Hastert’s legal team will have to explain.
Gillers further said, “The government has to prove Hastert’s state of mind, not merely the withdrawals. But given how many there were, the inference will be strong that evasion was his purpose.”
If Hastert is convicted on the charges against him, he could be sentenced up to 10 years of jail time.
Hastert was the longest-serving Republican Speaker, having led the House for eight years before he left Congress in 2007. He also resigned from the Dickstein Shapiro lobbying firm in Washington and from the boards of exchange operator CME Group Inc and REX American Resources following his indictment, according to Daily Mail.
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