Former U.S. House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert faces federal charges that he violated federal banking laws between 2010 and 2014 when he allegedly withdrew nearly $3 million to pay as "hush money" to a person who threatened to expose "past misconduct" by the congressman, who taught at an Illinois high school between 1965 and 1981. Photo: UPI Photo / Kevin Dietsch | License Photo
WASHINGTON, June 5 (UPI) -- The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation is aware of three potential victims who were supposedly sexually assaulted decades ago by former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, CBS News reported Friday.
Previously, only two potential victims had been acknowledged -- a person identified in a federal indictment last month, who was supposedly being paid by Hastert, and another individual who was not being paid.
A third victim indicates the investigation into Hastert's past may be expanding, the CBS News report said.
The FBI has reportedly been looking into federal charges against the former Illinois representative for years. Last month it was reported that Hastert, 73, lied to federal agents in December about more than 100 separate bank withdrawals he made over a period of several years.
A federal indictment earlier this year accused Hastert, now a Washington, D.C., lobbyist, of withdrawing nearly $3 million from four different bank accounts without disclosing the transactions -- a violation of federal law. The indictment said the cash was paid as "hush money" to an unnamed individual who threatened to report past misconduct by the politician
In the process of withdrawing the money, a federal grand jury said, Hastert violated federal banking laws that require cash transactions in excess of $10,000 must be disclosed to the government. Once he became aware of the laws, the indictment says Hastert ensured that subsequent withdrawals totaled less than that amount.
So far, none of the alleged abuse victims have been identified by authorities, but the sister of an Illinois man told ABC News Friday that her brother told her years ago that he was abused when he was a student at an Illinois high school and Hastert was the wrestling coach.
The man, Steve Reinboldt, was also an equipment manager for the wrestling team at Yorkville High School, where Hastert coached and taught between 1965 and 1981, before he entered politics.
"I asked him, when was your first same-sex experience? He looked at me and said, 'It was with Dennis Hasteret," Jolene Burdge said. "I was stunned."
Burdge said Reinboldt, who died 20 years ago from AIDS-related complications, said he never reported the abuse because he didn't think anyone would believe him. It wasn't immediately clear if Reinboldt is among the potential victims known to federal authorities.
However, Burdge said she was contacted by the FBI two weeks ago to discuss Hastert.
When the indictment against Hastert was revealed last week, she even praised the news on her Facebook page, POLITICO reported.
"I can say with absolute certainty that there is sooo much more to this story. Finally the truth...," she posted
A high school friend of Reinboldt's said Friday that she remembers him as the "nicest, kindest soul" who was "trying to be accepted," the New York Times reported.
Beginning in 2010, Hastert allegedly began paying the person the indictment calls "individual A" to "compensate for and conceal" the reported sexual misconduct. First, the indictment said, he withdrew the money in increments of $100,000 and $50,000 but cut them to less than $10,000 once he became aware of the banking laws.
The indictment claims that Hastert had agreed to pay a total $3.5 million to "individual A," but had only paid less than $3 million when federal investigators began looking into the cash withdrawals.
In December, the indictment said, FBI agents asked Hastert about the money transactions -- to which the former congressman replied that he kept the funds himself because he wasn't confident in the banks holding his money.
Neither Hastert, his employer, Dickstein Shapiro, nor federal authorities have yet commented on the case.
Hastert's former school district said last month they had "no knowledge of Mr. Hastert's alleged misconduct, nor has any individual contacted the district to report any such misconduct." Friends and colleagues also expressed surprise at the allegations made against him.
"Anyone who knows Denny is shocked and confused by the recent news," Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., said last week.
"The gentleman was a super professional as a teacher, as a coach, as a human being," former Illinois wrestling champion Gary Matlock told NBC News. "I would refer to him as my second father."
Hastert is set ot be arraigned in Chicago next week. If convicted on the banking charges, he could face a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Hastert was the longest-serving Republican house speaker in U.S. history, holding the post between 1999 and 2007. As speaker of the house, he was second in line in the order of presidential succession -- and could have become commander-in-chief if either presidents Bill Clinton or George W. Bush, and their vice presidents, had simultaneously become incapacitated during that time.