Dennis Hastert Allegedly Engaged in Sexual Misconduct With Male Individual During Time as Teacher, Sources Say

Indictment of former House Speaker stuns associates, former colleagues.

ByABC News
May 29, 2015, 6:30 PM

— -- The alleged "misconduct" referenced in the indictment of former House Speaker Dennis Hastert is of a sexual nature involving a male individual, dating back to Hastert's time as a high school wrestling coach and history teacher in Yorkville, Illinois, sources with knowledge of the case told ABC News.

Associates and former colleagues of Hastert expressed surprise and dismay today over allegations that he disbursed $1.7 million in hush money payments to conceal alleged misconduct from a period before he entered politics.

The school district that employed Hastert from 1965 to 1981 as a high school history teacher and wrestling coach noted it "was first made aware of any concerns regarding Mr. Hastert when the federal indictment was released" Thursday.

The indictment revealed that Hastert's time at Yorkville, in Illinois, is "material" to the allegations against him and the U.S. Attorney's investigation. The indictment itself does not mention what the alleged misconduct is.

A statement released by Yorkville Community Unit School District #115 added it "has no knowledge of Mr. Hastert's alleged misconduct, nor has any individual contacted the District to report any such misconduct. If requested to do so, the District plans to cooperate fully with the U.S. Attorney's investigation into this matter."

A spokesman for Dickstein Shapiro LLC, the lobbying firm that Hastert joined in 2008 after leaving Congress, confirmed in a brief statement that "Dennis Hastert has resigned from the firm."

Ron Safer, a former U.S. prosecutor in Chicago who is now in private practice, said the indictment "is weird for a hundred different reasons."

"If you are trying to keep everything secret, you don't indict," Safer told ABC News. "Because eventually this information will have to come out either when he pleads, because that’s public, and a factual basis will have to be revealed," Safer told ABC News. "I cannot imagine a judge sealing that. ... The public has a right to this kind of information. This guy is a public official."

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest declined comment directly on the indictment because the matter "falls into the category of an active Department of Justice investigation," but indicated that President Obama expects a comprehensive investigation.

"Even though Speaker Hastert served as the Speaker of House in the other party, there's nobody here who derives any pleasure from reading about the former speaker's legal troubles at this point," Earnest said. "As a more general matter, the responsibility that the Department of Justice has to make sure that our public officials are not violating the public's trust is an important responsibility. And again I won't speak to any of the specific cases but the president certainly believes they have an important job to do and expects them to do it."

Hastert is likely to be arraigned next week, but a date has not yet been set and is entirely up to the judge. The U.S. Attorney's office in Chicago confirmed that no bond has been set. Customarily, the arraignment happens within five days to a week of an indictment, and bond will be set when Hastert is arraigned, according to a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney.

Some of Hastert's former colleagues on Capitol Hill also expressed dismay over the allegations of misconduct.

"Anyone who knows Denny is shocked and confused by the recent news," Sen. Mark Kirk, an Illinois Republican who served in the House with Hastert. "The former speaker should be afforded, like any other American, his day in court to address these very serious accusations. This is a very troubling development that we must learn more about, but I am thinking of his family during this difficult time."

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, who served in the House with Hastert from 1991 to 1995, said the allegation of misconduct spelled out in the indictment "doesn’t make any sense to me."

"I'm very disappointed in what I've heard and I want to find out more about it," Santorum told CNN today. "To see this kind of revelation is really upsetting. I feel bad for everybody involved."