Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert Accused of Sexual Misconduct
Four adult men have come forward to accuse Dennis Hastert, former Speaker of the House, of sexually molesting them. The abuse allegedly took place while Hastert was a wrestling coach in Illinois in the 1960s and 1970s.
Dennis Hastert is accused of molesting five victims, all of whom were wrestling students at the school where Hastert worked as a wrestling coach. One victim has since died of natural causes. On two occasions, prosecutors allege, Dennis Hastert gave an inappropriate massage to one of the boys in a locker room and then performed sex acts on him.
He also targeted a third student to stay alone in Hastert’s hotel room during a trip to wrestling camp, where he told the boy to lie down on the bed and take off his underwear. Dennis Hastert then massaged the victim’s groin area.
The fourth accuser says that Hastert touched him in a “very weird” manner while he was a student at school, according to prosecutors.
“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,” say the prosecutors.
Dennis Hastert faces no criminal charges for the acts he allegedly perpetrated fifty years ago—Illinois’s statute of limitations on child sex abuse cases has long since expired.
The Prominence of Predation
It’s an unfortunate fact that Dennis Hastert’s case is nothing new. Sexual predators aren’t just faceless strangers lurking in dark alleys. They are frequently in the limelight: prominent citizens in positions of trust and power, such as teachers, politicians, coaches, and religious figures. Predators abuse the trust and power vested in them by the community to sexually abuse children.
Roman Polanski, Jerry Sandusky, and Bill Cosby…these are just some of the famous people who have been accused (or found guilty) of sex crimes. Whenever someone acquires fame, wealth, power, or trust, there is the potential for a sex crime to take place. Parents should be wary of any adult who takes an inordinate amount of interest in their child, and should also make themselves familiar with the signs of child sex abuse.
Simply defined, child sex abuse includes both physical and non-physical behavior. Types of physical child abuse include:
- Touching of a minor’s genitalia or anus with fingers, tongue, or sex organs
- Forcing a minor to touch another person’s genitalia or to play sexual games
Non-physical abuse includes:
- Forcing a minor to view pornographic materials
- Exhibitionism (exposing one’s genitalia to a minor)
- Photographing a minor nude, semi-nude, or posed sexually
- Forcing a minor to watch or listen to a sexual act
- Voyeurism (watching a minor use the bathroom or undress)
Children will often clue you in as to the way they’re feeling. Keep in mind, however, that the signs and signals listed below do not pertain solely to child sex abuse. A child undergoing puberty, or whose parents are divorcing, or who has some other source of emotional pain in his or her life may also display several of the following signs. Nonetheless, if your child demonstrates any of the following indicators, then you may have cause to believe your child has been sexually abused.
Behavioral signs of child sex abuse include:
- Using toys or inanimate objects in sexually explicit ways
- Precocious knowledge about sexual terminology, body parts, or acts
- Trouble sleeping
- Night terrors
- Abrupt weight loss or gain
- Eating disorders
- Emotional distance or extreme clinginess
- Mood swings, inexplicable irritability
- Burning, cutting, and other types of self-harm
- Angry outbursts
- Secretive behavior
- Bedwetting, thumb-sucking, and other juvenile behaviors
- Irrational fear of persons or locations
- Money or gifts from a mysterious source
- Talking of a new older friend
Infrequently, physical signs of child sex abuse also make themselves apparent. Be wary if your child shows any of the following:
- Mysterious bruises, redness, or soreness about the mouth or genitalia
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Bleeding or discharges from anus, mouth, or genitalia
- Painful urination or defecation
You should also be wary of the adults in your child’s life and scrutinize their behavior closely to determine if they are abusing your child or grooming them for sexual predation. Examples of predatory behavior include:
- Regularly intruding on a minor’s privacy
- Being excessively affectionate (kissing, hugging, touching)
- Demonstrating unhealthy interest in a child’s sexual development
- Making excuses to be alone with a child
- Offering to take the child away for a night on a trip or excursion
- Buying outlandish or expensive gifts for the child
- Demonstrating favoritism toward a particular child
- Flattering a minor and telling them he or she is “special”
What to Do if You Suspect Your Child Has Been Abused
If you suspect your child has been sexually abused, or your child comes and confesses to you, act immediately. Do not berate or belittle the child. It’s natural for you to feel angry and confused during this awful time, but you can’t allow this to backfire on your child or he or she will think it was wrong to have come forward. Ask your child as few questions as possible, just enough to get the basic facts of the case. Then call the police and make a report.
Second, you should take steps to secure the mental health of your child, who is probably burdened with tremendous amounts of guilt, fear, shame, and confusion. Therapy is probably a sound idea. Your child needs to speak with a professional mental healthcare worker who can help them work through their feelings. You, also, shouldn’t neglect your mental or emotional state. Practice self-care or see a competent therapist.
After you’ve contacted the proper authorities and the criminal investigation is underway, you should immediately hire a child molestation lawyer. It’s always possible that the criminal investigation will falter and your child’s abuser may go free. Even if justice isn’t served in criminal court, it can still be served in civil court. You are within your rights to take your child’s molester to court (and the institution which they represent) and seek financial compensation. You shouldn’t be forced to bear the financial burden of a molester’s sick act.
Contact Estey Bomberger for Competent Legal Representation
The law firm of Estey Bomberger has decades of experience fighting to preserve victims’ rights. We have the legal knowledge and the aggressive style you need on your side in a child sex abuse case. We spare no expense when it comes to obtaining expert testimony. We take cases on contingency, which means you pay nothing unless we win. Don’t wait to protect your victims’ rights. Get the competent legal representation your family deserves. Call 1.800.925.0723 for a free and confidential consultation.