Ex-House Speaker starts prison term for giving “hush money” to alleged victims

An ex-U.S. House Speaker reported to prison Wednesday in Minnesota to serve a 15-month sentence for attempting to give more than $3 million in “hush money” to an individual he is accused of sexually assaulting when he served as a wrestling coach in Illinois.

Dennis Hastert, 74, and bound to a wheelchair arrived at the Rochester Federal Medical Center at approximately noon Wednesday. Hastert was seen wheeling himself into the complex between high, razor-wire fencing with a woman behind him carrying crutches.

One of the highest-ranking U.S. politicians to go to prison, Hastert will be known at the prison as Inmate No. 47991-424.

At his sentencing in April, U.S. District Judge Thomas M. Durkin spoke about the abuse that dated back more than 35 years and branded Hastert as “a serial child molester” in imposing a sentence that went beyond federal guidelines, which recommended no more than six months behind bars, according to multiple sources.

Because the statute of limitations has run out, he was not charged with child abuse. The alleged crimes happened when he coached at Yorkville High School from 1965 to 1981. Instead, the former coach was charged with and pleaded guilty to violating banking law in trying to pay $3.5 million in hush money to one victim referred to in court papers only as “Individual A.”

Hastert has to follow the same protocol as other new inmates including a full-body strip search for contraband. He’ll also trade in his street clothes for prison wear and be subject to psychological and social screening, according to an inmate-orientation guide.