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Dennis Hastert faces lying and abuse charges

Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert has pleaded not guilty to all charges related to him lying to the FBI about the $3.5 million he agreed to pay to a certain individual to cover up “past misconduct” in Chicago, Illinois on June 9, 2015.

Reports say that he allegedly abused one of his former students. Hasert faces charges of lying to the FBI and paying hush money to one of his victims, who is identified as “Individual A.”

The 73-year-old Illinois Republican was ambushed by the media as he entered the Chicago court house.

Hastert has hired a high profile crime lawyer, Thomas Green, to defend him in court. Green has defended clients involved in Watergate, Iran Contra and Whitewater.

“Having such a great lawyer is a good advantage for Hastert. It may actually get him out of having to spend time in jail,”said freshman Steven Sigismondo.

Judge Thomas Durkin is allowing Hastert to be released on a pretrial release. Hastert had to sign an appearance bond of $4,500, which he loses if he fails to appear. He was also banned from carrying firearms, had to surrender his passport, and is required to cooperate in giving DNA samples.

Judge Durkin may not continue with the case because he revealed that he was friends with Hastert’s son, and he made donations to the Congressman’s 2002 and 2004 campaigns. He gave both parties two days to decide whether or not he should be disqualified.

A few years after Hastert left the House, he was approached by “Individual A” and agreed to pay $3.5 million to cover up his “past misconduct”. From 2010-2014, Hastert paid $1.7 million to this person, avoiding bank reporting requirements in the process.

Law enforcement confirmed that a second alleged victim was interviewed by them.

Jolene Burdge, the sister of a third victim reported that her brother, Steven Reinboldt, was molested by Hastert. He was the equipment manager for a high school wrestling team that Hastert coached.

Burdge said that she first figured out about the misconduct when Reinboldt told her years after high school that he was gay. She said that she asked him about his first sexual experience, and he responded that it was with Hastert.

Burdge said Hastert had a lot of opportunities to be alone with her brother because he was frequently around during wrestling meets, and was also a member of an Explorers troop that Hastert ran. Also, at one point, Hastert took the group on a trip to the Bahamas.

She said that her brother never told anyone because he did not think anyone would believe him. Burdge discussed how it deeply damaged her brother.

Burdge never asked Hastert for money, and had reported this case before in 2006.

Officials say that it is highly unlikely that her claims will be verified by law officials because her brother died in 1995 from AIDS.

Hastert worked as a high school teacher and wrestling coach before starting his career in politics. By the time he retired in 2007, Hastert was the third most powerful public official in the United States.

During his time in the House, Hastert oversaw an internal investigation of then-United States Republican Mark Foley who had been accused of sexually harassing male pages.

“It is sad and terrible that someone so important and famous would do something like this.  I feel really bad for the victims,” freshman Shawne Eldridge.

This case raises a lot of questions about appropriate punishments for sex offenders that are in important roles. Hastert may be let off easy because of his former job and his connections.

What do you think should happen to Hastert?

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