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Dennis Hastert’s Accuser Sues Him for $1.8 Million

Prosecutors Say Former Speaker Hastert Sexually Abused 4 Boys 2:22

The accuser at the center of the Dennis Hastert hush-money case sued the former House Speaker on Monday, saying he never finished paying $3.5 million in cash to settle a sexual abuse allegation.

The man known only as Individual A had only pocketed $1.7 million from the politician when the FBI began investigating red-flag cash withdrawals and learned of their secret deal.

Now, two days before Hastert is to be sentenced for illegal financial transactions, Individual A has filed suit in Illinois state court, seeking to collect the $1.8 million balance.

The five-page breach-of-contract complaint contains new details about the case that stretches back to the 1970s, when Hastert was a wrestling coach at Yorkville High School:

  • Individual A, then 14, was not yet a student at Yorkville when Hastert, a trusted family friend, invited him to a wrestling camp for high schoolers and then molested him in a motel room, the suit says.
  • In 2008, Individual A had a conversation with another person who said they had been abused by Hastert — and that prompted him to confront his former coach, the court papers say. His attorney would not comment on whether that person is one of four former students who prosecutors say have reported abuse, or a new accuser.
  • As a result of the motel room incident, Individual A claims he suffered panic attacks for years. They in turn caused unemployment, career changes, depression, hospitalization and long-sterm psychiatric treatment, the suit says.
Dennis Hastert in a yearbook photo. NBC News

Hastert's attorneys had no comment on the lawsuit. In a statement earlier this month, they said Hastert "acknowledges that as a young man he committed transgressions for which he is profoundly sorry."

The Republican, who led the House from 1999 to 2007 before becoming a lobbyist, was never charged with a sexual crime because, prosecutors said, the statute of limitations had passed.

He pleaded guilty to illegally structuring bank withdrawals to avoid reporting requirements for transactions over $10,000.

Prosecutors have recommended six months in jail. Hastert, citing his remorse and health problems, is asking for probation.

Kristi Browne, the attorney representing Individual A in the lawsuit, said he will not be at the sentencing and wants to stay out of the spotlight. "My client is counting on the justice system to do the right thing here," she told NBC News.

She said Individual A — who uses the pseudonym James Doe in the suit — doesn't have an opinion about whether Hastert should go to jail and isn't necessarily happy that he's been publicly disgraced.

"I think he would have preferred to have it remain private," Browne said.

Prosecutors have said they expect two people to testify against Hastert at the sentencing: a woman who says her brother, who has since died of AIDS, was molested throughout high school, and a man known for now as Individual D, who says the coach performed a sexual act on him while giving him a rubdown.

In the case of Individual A, prosecutors say that after arranging for the teen to share a room with him, he had the boy take off his underwear and massaged his groin under the guise of treating an injury. Hastert, clad only his underwear, then had the teen give him a back rub.

Browne said that her client didn't associate the episode with his panic attacks and other psychological problems until 2008, noting that many abuse victims blame themselves.

"Having a conversation where another victim referred to it as having been abused sort of opened his eyes to what actually happened," she said.

The sordid allegations came to light not because any of Hastert's former students came forward but because a bank worker became concerned about withdrawals the retired lawmaker made between 2010 and 2014 — $9,000 at a time from four banks, a pattern known to regulators as "structuring."

When the FBI questioned Hastert about the money, he lied and said he just wanted to keep it in a safe place, prosecutors said. His lawyers later contacted agents and told them he was actually being extorted by an ex-student with a false claim of sexual abuse from decades ago.

With recorders running, the agents had Hastert speak with Individual A and claim he was having trouble coming up with the next payment. They said the other man's tone and remarks were not consistent with an extortion plot.

Indeed, the lawsuit says that when Individual A asked Hastert for $3.5 million in compensation for "pain, suffering and harm," he suggested bringing in two confidantes and attorneys to draft a "legal" agreement.

"But Hastert preferred to keep the negotiations strictly confidential promising to 'pay every last dollar' of their agreed monetary settlement," the suit alleges.

Browne said that she has sent Hastert's legal team documents demanding he pay up and has never gotten a response.