A former student who Dennis Hastert sexually abused decades ago breached an unwritten $3.5 million hush-money agreement with the former U.S. House Speaker by telling family members and a friend about it, an Illinois judge ruled this week.
However, Kendall County Judge Robert Pilmer declined to enter a direct judgment in favor of Hastert or the now-adult sufferer who resisted the Illinois Republican, stating decisive questions in the civil case can only be answered at a trial.
Hastert’s victim, known just as James Doe in filings, brought the breach-of-contract lawsuit in 2016 in an effort to force Hastert to cover the outstanding balance of the hush money, almost $2 million. Hastert’s attorneys said the 2010 deal was void after Doe talked about it to other people.
Pilmer consented only in part with Hastert’s position, saying the guy who sued did have “an obligation” to not talk about the agreement.
“He needed to keep it secret,” Pilmer stated from the seven-page judgment first posted Tuesday.
However, the judge added that just jurors or, if it is a bench trial, a judge could ascertain whether Doe’s breaches were significant enough to absolve Hastert from having to pay the money.
The approximately $1.5 million Hastert did cover more than four years in $50,000 cash installations prompted a criminal investigation in 2014. Hastert’s methods for structuring the money withdrawals so that they would not be flagged tipped off the FBI, initiating the probe and finally making his misuse of Doe and others people.
Hastert ceased making payments after FBI agents questioned him.
Pilmer’s judgment — a partial victory for both sides — could place pressure on both Doe and Hastert to settle before the case gets to trial. A pretrial hearing is scheduled Friday.
Hastert pleaded guilty in 2015 to breaking banking legislation and a year later was awarded a 15-month prison sentence. At sentencing, U.S. District Judge Thomas M. Durkin called Hastert a “serial molester” for abusing teenagers when he was employed as a wrestling coach in Yorkville, about 40 miles west of Chicago.
Neither Hastert nor his victim broke laws by building a cash-for-silence deal, with prosecutors saying it was comparable to a out-of-court settlement. Prosecutors also have said Doe was not extorting Hastert and that it had been Hastert who insisted on maintaining the agreement secret.