Former US House Speaker Hastert gets 15 months in prison

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Dennis Hastert Sentenced to 15 Months in Prison

CHICAGO, April 27 (Reuters) - Former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert was sentenced on Wednesday to 15 months in federal prison, followed by two years of probation and sex-offender treatment for a financial crime related to his sexual abuse of high school wrestlers decades ago.

U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Durkin called Hastert a serial sex abuser in handing down the sentence, which was longer than the zero to six months recommended by federal prosecutors. Durkin said the sentence would have been even longer if it weren't for Hastert's age, 74, and poor health.

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Former US House Speaker Hastert gets 15 months in prison
Former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert leaves after a guilty plea at Dirksen U.S. Courthouse on Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015 in Chicago. (Zbigniew Bzdak/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON - NOVEMBER 15: Former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-IL) walks through Statuary Hall on his way to the House floor to make his farewell address to Congress November 15, 2007 in Washington, DC. He announced his resignation today and said he will leave office before the end of December. Hastert, 65, announced in August he would not seek reelection in 2008. Hastert was the longest-serving Republican speaker in U.S. history, and the first speaker since 1955 to remain in Congress after losing the speakership. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Dennis Hastert, former speaker of the US House of Representatives, attends the annual meeting of the Iranian resistance, presided over by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) in Villepinte, near Paris, on June 22, 2013. Some 500 parliamentarians from the United States, Canada, Europe, the Middle East and Arab countries were expected to join the gathering on June 22, one week after Hassan Rowhani, a moderate cleric, was declared winner of Iran's presidential election, ending an eight-year conservative grip on the Islamic republic's administration under Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Maryam Rajavi, president of the NCRI, denounced the 'sham election' in Iran and called on the West to stand firm with respect to Hassan Rohani, 'responsible for the machine or repression'. AFP PHOTO / JACQUES DEMARTHON (Photo credit should read JACQUES DEMARTHON/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON - JULY 28: Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (C) is joined by current Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) during a ceremony unveiling Hastert's portrati at the U.S. Capitol July 28, 2009 in Washington, DC. Hastert is the longest serving Republican speaker to date, holding the post from 1999-2007. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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Frail and clinging to a walker, Hastert, once one of the most powerful politicians in the United States, stood in court and acknowledged that he had sexually abused boys when he was a teacher and coach in his hometown of Yorkville, Illinois and apologized.

"I'm sorry to those I hurt and misled. I wanted to apologize for the boys I mistreated when I was a coach," Hastert told Durkin at the two-hour sentencing hearing in federal court in downtown Chicago.

Durkin asked Hastert if he acknowledged sexual abuse of his victims and Hastert said he did.

Hastert, the longest-serving Republican House speaker in history and a successful international lobbyist, last October pleaded guilty to structuring, which is withdrawing a large sum of money in small increments to avoid detection.

He was paying the money to one of his five victims. Durkin said that an extremely aggravating factor in the sentencing was that Hastert lied to federal agents about the money and falsely claimed that the victim was extorting him.

Scott Cross, 53, another one of Durkin's victims, spoke during the hearing. It was the first time that any of his five victims has spoken publicly.

"I wanted you to know and understand how Mr. Hastert violated the trust I put in him as a high school student. I wanted you to know the pain he caused me then and still does today," Cross told Durkin, as he choked up during his declaration.

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