Illinois abuse victim's lawsuit against ex-U.S. House speaker to proceed

November 8, 2016 5:41 PM EST

Former U.S. Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert leaves the Dirksen Federal courthouse after his sentencing hearing in Chicago, Illinois April 27, 2016. REUTERS/Frank Polich/File Photo


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By Timothy Mclaughlin

CHICAGO (Reuters) - A sexual abuse victim will continue to try to collect $1.8 million from former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert, the victim's attorney said on Tuesday, after an Illinois judge denied Hastert's motion to dismiss a breach-of-contract lawsuit.

The plaintiff, identified in court documents as James Doe, claims that Hastert agreed to pay him $3.5 million as compensation for decades of pain and suffering caused by Hastert's sexual abuse.

Hastert, 74, the longest-serving Republican U.S. House speaker in history, pleaded guilty last year to the crime of structuring, which involves withdrawing a large sum of money in small increments to avoid detection.

Hastert has not been charged with or convicted of sex abuse due to the statute of limitations, but at his sentencing hearing in April, he admitted to sexual abuse of boys when he was a high school teacher and coach in his hometown of Yorkville, around 50 miles (80 km) southwest of Chicago.

Hastert was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison, followed by two years of probation and sex-offender treatment.

He is serving his sentence in the Federal Medical Center in Rochester, Minnesota.

Doe filed the lawsuit in Kendall County Circuit Court in northeastern Illinois in April, claiming Hastert owes him the unpaid portion of a $3.5 million deal they verbally agreed to in 2008.

"There is no public policy against an abuser agreeing to compensate his victim and the victim seeking to enforce that commitment to compensate him," Kristi Browne, Doe's attorney, said in a statement on Tuesday.

"We will proceed now to prove our claim by seeking documents from Mr. Hastert and others and taking his deposition."

Judge Robert Pilmer rejected Hastert's motion to have the case dismissed on Monday and the decision was disclosed on Tuesday, according to court documents. The plaintiff had established a basis for a "claim for contract," Pilmer wrote in his order.

Hastert's attorney did not immediately respond to request for comment.

Hastert's attorney sought dismissal because the contract was not in writing, saying it would be void because Doe broke confidentiality by speaking about it, according to court documents

Doe said he was 14 when he was molested by Hastert, a trusted family friend, high school teacher and "beloved coach" of the state champion wrestling team in the town of Yorkville, Illinois, according to court documents.

The next hearing in the contract case is scheduled for Jan. 18.

(Reporting by Timothy Mclaughlin; Editing by David Gregorio)



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