A federal grand jury indictment unveiled Thursday against former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) revealed next to nothing about the “prior misconduct” he allegedly committed against an individual to whom he paid $1.7 million in hush money over the years.
Federal prosecutors did divulge one crucial clue, however: Yorkville, Illinois.
Hastert was charged in the indictment with structuring cash withdrawals to evade federal reporting requirements and lying to the FBI about those withdrawals. The indictment alleges Hastert agreed to pay $3.5 million to “compensate for and conceal his prior misconduct against” an unidentified individual that had occurred years earlier. The charges said he had only withdrawn $1.7 million to date.
Hastert’s time as a high school teacher and coach from 1965 to 1981 in Yorkville was highlighted in the indictment right off the bat. The town is also referenced as the place where “Individual A” resided for most of his or her life. The indictment added that “Individual A” has known Hastert for most of his or her life, too.
A former federal prosecutor stressed the importance of the teacher/coach detail to the Associated Press.
“Feds don’t put in language like that unless it’s relevant,” said Jeff Cramer, who now heads up the investigation firm Kroll’s Chicago office.
It’s clear that Yorkville is where Hastert and “Individual A” intersect. A slew of questions still remain unanswered, though: is “Individual A” male or female? What kind of connection did “Individual A” have to Hastert? What kind of “misconduct” was so unspeakable that it was worth the former House speaker allegedly agreeing to pay out $3.5 million in cash to keep it under wraps?
It may be a while before the public gets some answers to those questions. BuzzFeed News reported on Thursday, based on anonymous sources, that the prosecutor in the case, U.S. Attorney Zachary T. Fardon, struck a deal with Hastert’s lawyers to withhold explicit details from the indictment.
This post has been updated.