At least four people have accused former House Speaker Dennis Hastert of sexual abuse, the Chicago Tribune reported Thursday, citing the accusers themselves and law enforcement sources.
According to the Tribune investigation, law enforcement sources described the individuals’ allegations as credible. The newspaper claimed it has identified three of the men whose allegations reportedly date back to when they were teenagers coached by Hastert at an Illinois high school.
One of the men, who was a wrestling team equipment manager, died two decades ago. Two others, according to the report, were popular student-athletes.
The revelations come as the former congressional Republican powerhouse asks for leniency in his hush-money case – in which sexual abuse allegations have been hinted at but are not the basis for the charges.
A filing in federal court in Chicago — where the Illinois Republican is scheduled for sentencing on April 27 — said Hastert "apologizes for his misconduct that occurred decades ago" and is "overwhelmed by the guilt." Notably, it contains no detail about that misconduct.
His lawyers asked a federal judge to spare him prison time, and sentence him to probation instead.
The document cites a list of ailments, some of which stem from his hospitalization days after he pleaded guilty on Oct. 28 to violating bank structuring laws as he sought to pay $3.5 million to ensure an "Individual A" stayed quiet about past misconduct by Hastert. The misconduct dated back decades to around the time Hastert was a high school wrestling coach.
Attorneys and the judge spoke recently about someone possibly testifying at sentencing who says Hastert sexually abused him years ago.
Indeed, the Tribune report said one of the accusers, identified as Individual D, spoke to the newspaper and is considering speaking at the ex-lawmaker’s sentencing.
Hastert attorney Tom Green said in a statement to the Tribune: "Mr. Hastert has made mistakes in judgment and committed transgressions for which he is profoundly sorry. … He fully understands the gravity of his misconduct decades ago and regrets that he resorted to … an effort to prevent the disclosure of that misconduct."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.