CHICAGO – Now that a judge branded him "a serial child molester," Dennis Hastert must prepare to serve his 15-month prison sentence. Once he's out, the former House speaker must participate in a sex-offender program that could include lie-detector and other tests to determine how many children he's molested in his lifetime.
Judge Thomas M. Durkin imposed a stiffer sentence than guidelines suggested, citing how the Illinois Republican sexually abused at least four of the wrestlers he coached at Yorkville High School from 1965 to 1981. Hastert was not convicted of child abuse but of violating banking rules as he sought to pay $3.5 million to a victim referred to only as Individual A to keep him quiet about the sex abuse.
Here's a look at what happens next:
REPORTING TO PRISON
Hastert, who lives in suburban Chicago, remains free for now. To give prison officials time to pick the right penitentiary, the judge did not set a date for him to report. But he will do that soon, probably ordering Hastert to enter prison within a few months. By law, Hastert must serve at least 85 percent of his sentence, or just over a year.
GETTING SEX OFFENDER TREATMENT
The man who was for eight years second in the line of succession to the presidency must submit to sex-offender treatment after he's released, Durkin said. The idea behind the practice is to reduce the danger sex offenders pose.
A lie-detector test would seek to determine how many times Hastert sexually abused kids and over what period of time, Chicago attorney Terry Ekl explained.
"If you find out there were victims just 40 years ago or throughout his life, that would affect his treatment." Similar tests could include a device called a penile plethysmograph, which gauges a known molester's physical reaction to specific images.
FINDING SAFETY AMONG OTHER MOLESTERS
The judge spoke about some attributes Hastert's prison should have. One is that it should have a notable population of child molesters to help ensure Hastert's safety. Other inmates sometimes single out prisoners accused of hurting children, regarding them as the lowest of the low. Wherever Hastert ends up, inmates who spend time with him would be screened to ensure they are not inclined to attack Hastert, the judge added.
Hastert sat in a wheelchair at sentencing, grabbing a walker at one point to shuffle to a podium to deliver a statement. After pleading guilty last year, he suffered a stroke and a serious blood infection. He's also diabetic.
The judge said a prison would have to have the medical facilities to treat Hastert. Durkin added: "This is not meant to be a death sentence." But he said finding a suitable facility should not be difficult, noting that many defendants older and sicker than Hastert are sent to prison.
Just before Hastert's sentencing, Individual A filed a lawsuit in Yorkville, saying he is still owed about half the agreed-to $3.5 million. Hastert stopped making the payments in 2014 after the FBI questioned him about his massive cash withdrawals. Other accusers could also potentially sue.
An appeal is a possibility, but it's a long shot. In pleading guilty, Hastert waived many of his legal options. He would probably have to present overwhelming evidence that he was somehow coerced into pleading guilty to have any hope of prevailing. The clock is ticking: Any notice of appeal would need to be filed within about two weeks.
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