Former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert has become one of the highest-ranking politicians in American history to be sentenced to prison.
Hastert pleaded guilty last fall to violating banking law as he sought to pay someone referred to as Individual A $3.5 million to keep sex abuse secret. He was sentenced Wednesday to 15 months in prison, sex offender treatment, two years of supervised release after his time behind bars and a $250,000 fine that will go to a crime victims fund.
When U.S. Judge Thomas M. Durkin read the sentence, Hastert sat unmoving in his wheelchair, hands folded on his lap, shoulders hunched and his face drawn. During the hearing, Judge Durkin called Hastert a “serial child molester.”
The 74-year-old Illinois Republican was the nation’s longest-serving GOP speaker and was second in the line of succession to the presidency.
An advocacy group supporting victims of sex abuse says they hope the the sentencing will help deter future crimes and encourage victims and witnesses to speak out.