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Former US House speaker Dennis Hastert sexually abused boys: Justice Dept.

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
President George W. Bush, center, is applauded by Vice President Dick Cheney, left, and speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, right, during Bush's State of the Union address at the Congress in Washington, DC on February 2, 2005.

The former speaker of the US House of Representatives Dennis Hastert sexually abused four young boys when he was their wrestling coach and committed bank fraud in order to pay hush money, according to US government prosecutors.

US Justice Department prosecutors said Friday Hastert paid nearly $1.7 million (out of a promised total of $3.5 million) to a man who was sexually abused at age 14 by Hastert when he was the boy’s wrestling coach.

Prosecutors said the abuse also involved “other minors,” and included touching their genitals or engaging in other forms of sex.

In detailing the allegations publicly for the first time, federal prosecutors accused Hastert of “stunning hypocrisy,” noting that he had built his early political career largely on the foundation of his work as a teacher, coach and mentor to his students.

In this June 9, 2015 file photo, former US speaker of the House Dennis Hastert arrives at the federal courthouse in Chicago for his arraignment.

Of his alleged victims, the prosecutors wrote that Hastert “made them feel alone, ashamed, guilty and devoid of dignity. While defendant achieved great success, reaping all the benefits that went with it, these boys struggled, and all are still struggling now with what defendant did to them."

Hastert's alleged sexual misconduct stayed secret for years, until 2010 when prosecutors say one of the victims confronted Hastert and asked him why he had done it. Shortly after that meeting, the man demanded that Hastert pay him $3.5 million “for what defendant had done to him.”

Hastert pleaded guilty in October to structuring withdrawals of just under $10,000 from his account in order to evade bank reporting laws. The money was to compensate the victim, referred to in court documents as “Individual A.”

Prosecutors said that Hastert cannot be charged for the alleged sexual abuse due to the statutes of limitation, but they recommended that the federal judge who will decide Hastert’s sentence later this month give him at least six months in prison for the charges related to the bank withdrawals.

The speaker of the House is second in the US presidential line of succession, after the vice president.

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