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Ex-Speaker Dennis Hastert Out of Federal Prison Hospital

by Tracy Connor /  / Updated 
Image: Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert arrives at the federal courthouse
Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert arrives at the federal courthouse on June 9, 2015, in Chicago for his arraignment on federal charges that he broke federal banking laws and lied about the money when questioned by the FBI.Charles Rex Arbogast / AP, file

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Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, who was sentenced to 15 months in prison in a hush-money case after being accused of sexually abusing boys, is no longer in a federal prison hospital.

The Bureau of Prisons confirmed that Hastert, 75, was transferred Monday to the custody of a reentry office in Chicago several weeks ahead of his official release date.

The agency did not say if disgraced lawmaker is under home confinement or in a private hospital or a halfway house, but it said he would be released from federal custody Aug. 17.

His attorney could not be reached for comment. A woman answering a phone listed in Hastert's name declined to comment, saying only, "I think we're going to be busy today."

Hastert was accused of molesting four boys between the ages of 14 and 17 when he was a coach at Yorkville High School in Illinois decades ago, but he was never charged with any sexual crimes because of the statute of limitations.

Instead, he was charged making illegal cash withdrawals to pay one of his accusers. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 15 months in prison and two years' supervised release by a judge who called him "a serial child molester."

During his sentencing hearing, Hastert apologized "to the boys I mistreated when I was their coach" but did not use word abuse.

He still faces lawsuits from two accusers, including the man he paid. Hastert has demanded the return of the $1.7 million.

"We will now move forward in these cases to the discovery phase, which is the next step towards holding Mr. Hastert accountable and securing justice for our clients," said the plaintiffs' attorney, Kristi Browne.

Image: BESTPIX - Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert Sentenced In Bank Reporting Case
Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert leaves the Dirksen Federal Court House in a wheelchair after his sentencing in Chicago, Ill., on April 27. Hastert was sentenced to 15 months in prison and ordered to pay $250,000 to a victim's fund for breaking banking laws as he sought to pay a man identified only as Individual A, 14-years-old at the time, millions of dollars to keep quiet about past sexual abuse. The abuse occured during Hastert's years as wrestling coach at Yorkville High School decades ago.* / Getty Images

The advocacy group SNAP said in a statement it was "shocked" to find Hastert was out of prison, although a slightly early release had been expected.

"Unfortunately, Hastert will never stand trial for the crime of sexual abuse. Illinois’ outdated and predator-friendly criminal statutes of limitations for child sex crimes ensure men and women who sexually abuse children get a 'free pass' as long as they can use fear and shame to keep their victims silent," the group said.

However, Illinois lawmakers recently passed a bill to repeal the statute of limitations for serious sexual offenses against children, which the governor is expected to sign into law.

One champion of the legislation was Scott Cross, who says Hastert molested him in a high-school locker room when he was a teenager. He broke a lifelong silence to testify at the politician's sentencing.

"I never looked to be in the spotlight like this," he recently told NBC News. "I don't need 15 minutes of fame but I knew in my gut that I needed to come out and say something, not just for myself, but for any other person who had been victimized by him or others."

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