“This House is a sanctuary; a citadel of law, of order, and of liberty…”
– Aaron Burr
Imperfect though it is, the US Congress stands as a testament to representative government, an august body which has given rise to great men and women. Names like Daniel Webster, Henry Clay, Stephen Douglas, and Abraham Lincoln once rang out in these halls.
To the nation’s shame, the name Dennis Hastert is included in the roster.
Hastert served as the 51st Speaker of the House of Representatives (1999-2007). He might have been known to history for that fact, might have left a positive legacy, except for one thing. Hastert is, also, a serial child molester .
Four of his victims chose to come forward. There are believed to be others. Hastert admitted to molesting the boys decades ago, as a high school wrestling coach in Illinois. He was sentenced this week for having paid $1.7 million in “hush” money to one of them. The statute of limitations has run on the actual abuse.
Defense counsel sought leniency on the 74 y.o. Hastert’s behalf, arguing that the Court should consider the full scope of Hastert’s life in passing sentence.
In sharp contrast, Scott Cross, now 53 y.o., described his sexual abuse at Hastert’s hands, and its impact . Until learning of the indictment, Cross could not bring himself to reveal the abuse to his family. Though speaking publicly is still painful for him, Cross expressed the view that failing to speak out would have been worse.
Another victim, Stephen Reinboldt, died of AIDS after years of personal torment.
Letters of support had extolled Dennis Hastert as a “good” man, with few flaws. History is not likely to be so kind.
 CNN, “Dennis Hastert Gets 15 Months in Prison in Hush Money Case” by Tal Kopan and Tami Luhby, 4/27/16, http://www.cnn.com/2016/04/27/politics/dennis-hastert-sentencing/index.html.
 The Daily Beast, “The Courage of Scott Cross and the Cowardice of Dennis Hastert” by Michael Daly, 4/28/16, http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/04/28/the-courage-of-scott-cross-and-the-cowardice-of-dennis-hastert.html.
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