Denny Hastert gets 15 months
Larry and I had come to the conclusion that, though the technical issue was lying to the FBI – not child sex abuse – Judge Thomas Durkin would sentence former Speaker Dennis Hastert to some sort of prison term. But neither one of us thought it would be nearly triple the federal recommendation.
Given that these kinds of federal felonies mandate the offender serve 85 percent of their sentence, Hastert will be incarcerated for a little over a year which, considering his poor health, could turn out to be a death sentence.
Is it justice? Probably not. But I’m sure Judge Durkin didn’t want to face the slings and arrows of outrageous public opinion had he handed down probation.
Is it karma? Absolutely! Correctly referring to Hastert as a “serial child molester,” the judge also insisted upon sex offender evaluation and a two-year supervised release. And he could do just that because the abuse was a mitigating factor in the sentencing process.
In the end, I suppose what gets me is how many folks and entities were willing to buy into the Hastert myth because it furthered their own interests.
Accusing elected officials of being gay is a tried and true tradition, but it was different with Denny Hastert. The tales were much more specific and they were much more relentless. Not as much about abuse, but being bisexual. Even if you didn’t buy into that, his finances and real estate dealings have been suspect for a very long time.
But that didn’t stop Wheaton College from taking Hastert’s money and calling it the Dennis Hastert Center for Economics, Government, and Public Policy. They’re not nearly the only ones who bought into the legend either.
Since I couldn’t say it better than the Judge, let’s let his words stand:
“The defendant is a serial child molester. Some actions can obliterate a lifetime of good works. Nothing is more stunning than having ‘serial child molester’ and ‘speaker of the House’ in the same sentence.”
Will they recant?
Yesterday, a good political friend mused that, with Hastert finally admitting he actually did abuse a series of teenage boys, will the friends and family who wrote letters supporting a lighter sentence rethink it?
One would hope Former Illinois Attorney General Ty Fahner, former CIA Director Porter Goss, Tom Delay, members of the wrestling community, and so many others – 41 in all – have to reconsider their kind words.
The fascinating thing is, Dallas Ingemunson, Jan Carlson, and Pate Phillip, the local politicians who brought us Dennis Hastert, have been strangely silent.
It kinda makes you wonder what they knew.
This is the best reason those letter writers should reconsider. Don’t get me wrong, no form of sexual abuse is “better” or “worse” than other. It’s just that Scott Cross coming forward to describe what happened to him at Hastert’s hand makes it all very real
It becomes much more difficult to dismiss the abuse as some sort of conspiracy theory when one of the victims is the brother of former Illinois House Minority Leader Tom Cross.
Tom Cross, of course, came to the Illinois political forefront, in great part, because of Dennis Hastert’s vast influence. Some folks had noted that, despite being asked, the elder Cross did not pen a letter supporting his mentor and now we know why.
Scott Cross did not tell his family until the news of Hastert’s arrest. In his words:
“As a 17-year-old boy I was devastated. I tried to figure out why Coach Hastert had singled me out. I felt terribly alone. Today I understand I did nothing to bring this on, but at age 17, I could not understand what happened or why.”
In 2013, Tom Cross was instrumental in eliminating the Illinois child sexual abuse statute of limitation. Sadly, the Constitution does not allow for it to be retroactive.