‘What you did wasn’t misconduct, it was sexual abuse of a minor’: Victims get a voice during Hastert sentencing

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CHICAGO -- During today’s sentencing of former House Speaking Dennis Hastert,   a packed courtroom heard bombshell testimony about allegations that Hastert molested boys.

There were two witnesses for prosecution and none for Dennis Hastert.  The sister of one victim says today was a victory and that  Hastert will finally brought to justice.

Stephen Reinboldt died from AIDS when he was 42.  On his death bed, he told his sister Jolene Burdge about Hastert sexually abusing him.  He was the equipment manager on Hastert’s very successful Yorkville High School wrestling team.  He came from a troubled home and was looking for an adult to look up to. Instead Hastert preyed on him.

His sister said in court today, "You were supposed to keep him safe.  Not violate him. … what you did wasn’t misconduct, it was sexual abuse of a minor"

Jolene had confronted Hastert who she says dismissed her. She did not stop.

“I knew your secret and you couldn’t bribe or intimidate your way out,” she said.

When pressed by Judge Thomas Durkin, Hastert admitted to the abuse of Reinboldt and two other boys. But he said he did not remember abusing Scott Cross, although he said he probably did.

Now 53, Cross is a married father of two and the brother of former state representative Tom Cross.  He was the captain of the team and a state wrestling champ.  Scott said he never told a soul what Hastert did until Hastert was charged with the financial crime.  Then he told his wife and brother.

In court, Scott said he was 17 when Hastert told him a massage would help him make weight for a match.  They were in the locker room alone late after practice.  Scott said he respected and trusted "Coach Hastert.”  That he was a key figure in his life.  Scott said Hastert told him to lay face down on the table with his shirt off.  Then told him to turn over and proceeded to take off his shorts and rub him.

"As a 17–year-old boy I was devastated,” Scott said.  "I felt intense pain and extreme guilt.”

He added, "It was important to tell the truth finally… I could no longer remain silent.”

Tom Cross issued this statement after court :

We are very proud of Scott for having the courage to relive this very painful part of his life in order to ensure that justice is done today.  We hope his testimony will provide courage and strength to other victims of other cases of abuse to speak out and advocate for themselves.

As Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert worked closely with Republican Tom Cross and actually asked him to write a letter of support during his sentencing.


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