Attorneys for former House Speaker Dennis Hastert say they are not positive an allegation of a groin rub by a coach on a teenage wrestler constitutes sexual misconduct.
“While undoubtedly many would consider this episode as described by (Individual A) consisting of a groin rub for a groin pull and a massage, to be misconduct, we are not so certain that the incident qualifies as sexual misconduct, especially for a coach and trainer 42 years ago,” lawyers Thomas C. Green and John N. Gallo wrote in the court document.
The filing, which was unsealed Wednesday, was in response to a sentencing recommendation during a criminal case against the 74-year-old retired legislator. He pleaded guilty last year to structuring money transactions to evade reporting where he took massive amounts of funds he was withdrawing. He will be sentenced April 27.
Individual A is one of four boys who alleged Hastert sexually abused them decades ago.
Hastert will not face sexual abuse charges because the statutes of limitations have expired.
Hastert’s attorneys said their client “deeply regrets that the episode (described by Individual A) occurred.” They maintained the observation about the appropriateness of the incident was theirs, and not one made by Hastert.
Financial violation case
The accusations came to light after investigators found out Hastert was paying an ex-student to stay quiet about sexual abuse allegations, prosecutors alleged.
The student was among four others who told investigators the then-beloved wrestling coach abused them, including one who was 14 at the time, the documents say.
The allegations date to the 1960s and 1970s, according to the prosecutors’ court filing.
Hastert’s attorneys have asked for probation instead of jail time. In their response to the sentencing recommendation, they say some statements Hastert made to investigators should not be used in determining his punishment.
They also say Hastert’s conduct with Individuals A and B should not be considered because they didn’t happen during the financial violations.
Prosecutors said Hastert was withdrawing the large sums of money to buy Individual A’s silence.
Massages, sex acts alleged
All those who accused him of sexual abuse were wrestlers at the high school, according to the documents.
In two separate cases, Hastert massaged one boy each in a locker room and performed unspecified sexual acts on them, prosecutors allege.
In another instance, he allegedly massaged a boy’s groin area and singled him out to stay in his hotel room during a wrestling camp.
Another accuser said Hastert touched him inappropriately in a “very weird” way while he was a student, prosecutors said.
“The actions at the core of this case took place not on the defendant’s national public stage but in his private one-on-one encounters in an empty locker room and a motel room with minors that violated the special trust between those young boys and their coach,” prosecutors said.
During his time at Yorkville High School, Hastert was a beloved coach. He was named Illinois coach of the year after leading the wrestling team to the state championship.
In a statement Saturday, Hastert ‘s attorney Thomas Green said the former speaker “acknowledges that as a young man he committed transgressions for which he is profoundly sorry.”
“He earnestly apologizes to his former students, family, friends, previous constituents and all others affected by the harm his actions have caused,” Green said.
Hastert has already suffered “profound humiliation and public shaming” and is in poor health, Green added.
Hastert was the Republican speaker of the House from 1999-2007.
By Steve Almasy, CNN