Saturday, April 9, 2016

Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert Allegedly Abused 4 Boys

On Friday, April 8th, federal prosecutors detailed sexual abuse allegations against Dennis Hastert, who was the Speaker of the House from 1999 to 2007, saying that he abused at least 4 boys when he worked as a wrestling coach in the 1960s and 1970s.

Source: NPR
Since the statute of limitations on these cases has expired, Hastert will not face any charges for the sexual abuse. Investigators say they found out about these incidents when Hastert was accused of structuring money transactions to avoid reporting. They then discovered that these transactions involved $3.5 million dollars that Hastert was paying to one of his accusers to keep quiet. He has already pleaded guilty for the financial violation, and his sentencing for this financial violation will take place on April 27th.

The sexual abuse occurred when Hastert worked as a wrestling coach at a high school in Illinois. All of those who accused him of sexual abuse were wrestlers at the school. Prosecutors say the "known acts" consisted of "intentional touching of minors’ groin area and genitals or oral sex with a minor" (NY Times). They also stated that "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" (CNN).

Hastert's attorney stated that Hastert is "deeply sorry and apologizes for his misconduct that occurred decades ago and the resulting harm he caused to others...He will stand before the court having deteriorated both physically and emotionally, undoubtedly in part due to public shaming and humiliation of an unprecedented degree" (CNN). Since Hastert is in poor health, his attorneys have asked for a sentence of probation for his financial violation, but prosecutors are seeking for six months of prison time and also want him to be evaluated as a sex offender. 

This case, as well as other recent sexual abuse cases in the past few years, has raised the debate over statute of limitations for child sexual abuse cases. There are statute of limitations for almost every crime, except crimes such as murder. Statute of limitations are designed to protect the defendant from outdated evidence, but others argue that for child sexual cases, it can take a long time for victims to grow up and realize what was committed against them.

Questions:
Do you think the judge will consider the sexual abuse as a factor in the sentencing of the financial violation case, even though the statute of limitations are already up? 
Do you think the current statute of limitations for sexual abuse is appropriate, or should it be either shortened or lengthened? 

4 comments:

Daniel Jun said...

The second question about the statue of limitation is a really mixed bag. If minor A seduces adult B, adult B happens to be drunk, and minor A is really good at what he or she did, it isn't really fair for adult B to face charges for what was totally not his or her fault. On the other hand, it isn't fair for someone who got away with heinous crimes from decades ago to be completely off the hook. And because any number of variations of crimes such as this exist, I don't believe there is a definitive answer to the question. My personal belief is, if it's clear you did horrible things, you should be punished (looking your way Cosby). So I tentatively the limitation should not be lengthened, but that does not mean it should be shortened either.
The judge, technically, shouldn't allow this case of sexual abuse to affect his judgement (I'm assuming the judge is a man), as while it acts as part of the background of this case, it is not legally admissible as evidence. But financial violation, like sexual abuse against minors, is a serious matter. Even if the judge does not allow the sexual abuse to affect him, the charges should still be severe.

Emma Mester said...

I think that the judge, if abiding by the law and the statue of limitation, will not consider the sexual abuse as a factor in his sentence for the financial crime. I do, however, think that Hastert should absolutely be put on the registry of sex offenders. I personally, although I understand the reasoning behind them, do not agree with statues of limitation as a general rule, especially for major crimes such as sex abuse. I think the whole idea of statues of limitation should just be ended. It is letting someone get away with a crime permanently, just because they hid it well for a long time. That doesn't make any sense to me at all.

Tara Young said...

I think that the sexual abuse charges should be considered in the financial violation sentencing. He apologized for his "misconduct," but was never charged. Also, he paid of his accusers, so they felt they were done wrong. His apology seems very insincere. I think that the statute of limitations for child abuse should be lengthened. It is a valid argument that children may not know what wrong was done to them until they grow up. Also, it can effect them for a longtime. It is especially wrong that it was done as the minors' wrestling coach as he was a figure of authority in their lives, and he abused that power. I believe that he should be sentenced to time in jail even though he is essentially arguing that he is too old to be and should be labeled as a sex offender.

Alex Binsacca said...

I do not think that the judge will consider the sexual abuse charges in the financial case. I think the statue of limitation will take over, as it is decades old. I do think that the statue of limitation is sex crimes is complete bogus. The reason being is sometimes it takes years for a victim of sexual abuse to come forward, as they feel all these mixed emotions of fear, anger, shame, and embarrassment due to what happened to them. This is where the statue of limitation causes extreme issues, as victims have to report right away, and won't have time to cope with what happened to them. Then they immediately have to relive that tragedy in front of an open court, if they have any hope of putting their attacker behind bars. Plus if the attacker is still out there for years after, then the statue of limitation protects that monster, so then they can repeat the crime over and over. I absolutely think that this man should at least be put on the registry.