On April 27, 2016, Dennis Hastert, one of the most powerful politicians in the nation, was sentenced by Federal Judge Thomas Durkin to 15 months in prison. Hastert pled guilty to structuring bank transaction withdrawals to evade bank-reporting requirements. Federal officials determined the reason for the hush money was to cover up the sexual abuse of a victim that occurred when Hastert was teaching in the 1960’s and 1970’s.
Dennis Hastert was a teacher and wrestling coach at Yorkville High School when he sexually abused multiple students, at least four, for over ten years. According to the prosecutors, Hastert abused/inappropriately touched these teenage boys in hotel rooms during wrestling trips and in empty locker rooms. He would later move on from his teaching position to become the 51st and longest-serving in history, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives. Despite his confession in court of the sexual abuse of these minors, Hastert will never be charged with the crime.
Statutes of Limitation is a period within which a prosecutor can charge an individual with a crime. The limitations are meant as a check on prosecutorial power, in case the defendant may have lost evidence to disprove a claim, and as a safeguard for imperfect memories. In 34 states, laws require prosecutors to file charges within periods ranging from three months to 30 years. Only eight states do not have any statute of limitations for prosecuting felony sexual assaults. In Illinois, under the General Assembly’s Statute, 720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/3-5, 5/3-6, the sexual abuse/assault of a minor must be filed within 20 years after the victim turns eighteen. If the DNA profile of the offender is obtained and entered within 10 years after the commission of the offense, the charges have no time limit.
Although the victims of sexual abuse from Hastert will never see the charges in court, hopefully, there is some satisfaction for the victims and their loved ones for the 15-month prison sentence. Nicole Rhim
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