The civil “hush money” lawsuit against former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert ended Wednesday when a settlement was reached. Chief Judge Robert Pilmer, of Illinois’ 23rd Judicial Circuit announced Wednesday afternoon after a conference that the parties had reached a tentative settlement agreement.
“We’ve reached an agreement in principle, the terms of the agreement are confidential,” the plaintiff’s attorney Kristi Browne said after the settlement was announced, adding, “It’s just subject to us hammering out a written settlement agreement. I can tell that you all the claims between the parties are resolved, will be resolved, subject to the execution of the settlement agreement,” she said. “I would have loved to try this case, I think it was a good case,” Browne said. “I’ve been, you know, very confident about our case from the beginning, but you know, this is what, you know, we’ve managed to resolve and this is a resolution that my client is comfortable with.”
Hastert’s attorney John Ellis declined to comment.
Jury selection was scheduled to begin on September 20, 2021 and the plaintiff, referred to in court filings only as James Doe would have been identified in court for the first time once the trial began.
Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert served roughly 85% of a 15-month prison sentence handed down in 2016 after he pleaded guilty to one felony count of the financial crime known as structuring: concealing banking activity by withdrawing large sums of cash in small denominations to avoid federal reporting requirements. Hastert broke federal banking rules by obscuring his withdrawals of $1.7 million to pay hush money to a former student he had sexually abused in the 1970s while working as a teacher and wrestling coach at Yorkville High School before entering politics. That individual filed the lawsuit against Hastert in 2016 for breach of contract, seeking the unpaid balance of the $3.5 million total in hush money, about $1.8 million.
Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert was never charged for the allegations of sexual abuse maybe because the statute of limitations had ran out.
Browne said she could not disclose communications with her client, but she did say that the settlement was a “a little bit” of a surprise to her.
“Let me say this: it’s never over for a victim of childhood sexual abuse. It’s never over. It impacts them for the rest of their lives,” Browne said. “This resolves this case. This resolves my client’s claims against Mr. Hastert. It resolves Mr. Hastert’s counterclaim against my client and it resolves all of the issues in litigation between them.”