Updated at 12:55 p.m. ET
In court this morning, Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert admitted that he sexually abused at least one student when he was a teacher and coach in Illinois decades ago and said he was “ashamed.”
“What I did was wrong and I admit it,” Hastert said, according to NPR’s David Schaper.
Hastert was sentenced to 15 months in prison in the case involving hush money that prosecutors say was used to cover up alleged sexual abuse of a minor. The longest-serving Republican speaker in U.S. history had faced up to five years in prison for the financial crimes.
Hastert has not been charged with sex abuse because the statute of limitations has expired.
Two witnesses testified at the federal court hearing in Chicago: a woman who says her brother was abused by Hastert, and a man who says he himself was assaulted as a teen.
Hastert, 74, pleaded guilty in October to illegally structuring bank withdrawals to evade reporting rules for large transactions. That money was used to conceal alleged sexual misconduct — given to a man who says Hastert abused him when he was 14.
The alleged victim, identified in court documents as “Individual A,” is suing Hastert for not paying the full amount agreed upon between the two. He says Hastert paid $1.7 million out of $3.5 million in “compensation.”
During today’s hearing, a man previously only identified as “Individual D” came forward to make a statement before sentencing. Reporters tweeting from the courtroom said he is Scott Cross, 53. The Chicago Tribune, which says it had known of Cross’ identity but withheld that information until now, says Cross is the brother of former longtime Illinois House Rep. Tom Cross.
Jolene Burdge, who says Hastert abused her late brother, also spoke Wednesday. Burdge said Hastert took away her brother’s “right to develop his sexual identity in a normal, healthy way,” a CBS News reporter tweeted.
In handing down the sentence, Judge Thomas Durkin called Hastert a “serial child molester,” according to multiple reporters in the room.
Hastert served as House speaker from 1999 to 2007, and was a high school teacher and wresting coach in Yorkville, Ill., in the 1960s and ’70s. According to court documents, it was during this time that Hastert allegedly sexually abused at least five teen boys.
As The Two-Way has reported:
“The [plea] deal states that Hastert ‘agreed to provide Individual A $3,500,000 in order to compensate for and keep confidential his prior misconduct against Individual A.’
“It goes on to say that from July of 2012 to December 2014, Hastert withdrew $952,000 in amounts below $10,000 to ‘evade currency transaction reporting requirements’ on more than 100 occasions.”
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