WASHINGTON — Dennis Hastert sexually abused a student who had worked as his equipment manager while Hastert coached a high school wrestling team, the student’s sister tells ABC News.
It’s the first name that’s emerged as an alleged victim of abuse at the hands of the former House Speaker since Hastert was indicted for allegedly lying to the FBI about $3.5 million he agreed to pay to an undisclosed person to “cover up past misconduct.”
Jolene Burdge said in the interview that she found out about Hastert’s misconduct when her older brother Steven Reinboldt, who died in 1995, told her in 1979, years after leaving school, that he was gay.
“I asked him, when was your first same sex experience. He looked at me and said, ‘It was with Dennis Hastert,'” Burdge, whose maiden name is Reinboldt, told ABC News. “I was stunned.”
He didn’t tell anyone, he said, because “Who is ever going to believe me?” Burdge recounted.
Hastert was a teacher and wrestling coach in Yorkville, Illinois between 1965 and 1981 before entering politics.
Burdge said Hastert had “plenty of opportunities to be alone” with her brother because he was frequently around during wrestling meets, and was also a member of an Explorers troop that Hastert ran. At one point, Hastert took the group on a trip to the Bahamas.
“[Steven Reinboldt] was there after everything because he did the laundry, the uniforms. So he was there by himself with [Hastert],” Burdge said.
It’s unclear whether Steven Reinboldt is related to the charges in the current indictment against Hastert, however, as that outlines an agreement with an unidentified individual that began with meetings in 2010.
“During the 2010 meetings and subsequent discussions, Hastert agreed to provide Individual A $3.5 million in order to compensate for and conceal his prior misconduct against Individual A,” according to the indictment. Jolene Reinbolt told ABC that she did not know who “individual A” is.
Burdge says her brother passed away of AIDS in 1995, and she maintains she never asked Hastert for money. Burdge did say she was contacted by the FBI two weeks ago asking to speak with her about Hastert.
Burdge said she tried to alert news organizations about Hastert in 2006, including ABC. ABC News said it didn’t run with the reporting because it lacked corroborating evidence.
A federal law enforcement official confirmed to CNN last week that the indictment was pertaining to a former student, who was a male and a minor when the alleged abuse took place. Federal law enforcement officials also said that investigators decided not to pursue a possible extortion case in the matter.