Ex-Speaker Dennis Hastert released from federal prison

CHICAGO - Former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert has been released from a federal prison 13 months after he began serving a sentence for a bank fraud conviction linked to his effort to buy the silence of a former student he sexually abused during his days as a high school wrestling coach.

Hastert, 75, pleaded guilty to illegal structuring of bank withdrawals as part of an effort to circumvent federal banking laws as he went about paying off someone identified in court as "Individual A" for abuse that occurred more than 30 years ago during his years as a teacher and coach in Yorkville, Ill.

The former speaker served about 13 months of a 15-month sentence, according to federal prison records, and now faces two years of supervised release and lawsuits from former students who say they were victims of Hastert.

The ex-speaker is now under the supervision of a residential re-entry management field office based in Chicago, Bureau of Prisons records show.

Hastert told prosecutors he paid Individual A about half of a $3.5 million off-the-books agreement to keep quiet about the abuse. Individual A sued Hastert, seeking payment for the remaining $1.8 million he says Hastert still owes him.

The statutes of limitation long expired for the sex abuse, but prosecutors said they identified at least five individuals sexually abused by Hastert during his years as an educator before he launched his political career in the early 1980s.

Before Judge Thomas Durkin handed down the sentence, Hastert acknowledged he abused Individual A and other boys in his charge.

“I want to apologize to the boys I mistreated when I was a coach,” he said. “They looked (up) at me and I took advantage of them.”

The former speaker served 20 years in Congress and eight years as the highest-ranking member of the House before retiring in 2007. He is the longest serving Republican speaker in history.

At his sentencing last year, Durkin called Hastert a "serial child molester" and ordered him to attend a sex offender treatment program.

"Nothing is more disturbing than having serial child molester and speaker of the House in the same sentence," Durkin said. 

Follow USA TODAY Chicago correspondent Aamer Madhani on Twitter: @AamerISmad

© 2017 USATODAY.COM


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