Former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert received a 15-month prison sentence Wednesday for violating bank reporting requirements. The bank violations were in connection with a hush money scheme to conceal past sexual misconduct dating back to when Hastert, 74, was a teacher and wrestling coach at Yorkville High School.
During today's sentencing hearing, Hastert admitted to sexually abusing students.
"I want to apologize to the boys I mistreated," Hastert said.
"What I did was wrong and I regret it," he added. "They looked to me, and I took advantage of them."
Federal Judge Thomas Durkin, who gave Hastert a longer sentence than recommended by prosecutors, described the former politician as "serial child molester."
As part of his punishment, Hastert must also pay a $250,000 fine, be on supervised release for two years and undergo sex offender treatment.
One of Hastert's alleged victims is Scott Cross, 53, a former Yorkville High School student athlete who testified at today's hearing. Cross, who had been referred to in court documents as Individual D, is the brother of former Illinois House GOP leader Tom Cross.
Cross said Hastert sexually abused him in a wrestling room when he was 17.
"Judge, I wanted you to know the pain and suffering he caused me then, and the pain and suffering he causes me today," Cross said.
In a statement, Tom Cross said he and his family "are very proud of Scott for having the courage to relive this very painful part of his life in order to ensure that justice is done today."
"We hope his testimony will provide courage and strength to other victims of other cases of abuse to speak out and advocate for themselves," Cross said. "With his testimony concluded, we ask now that you respect Scott's privacy and that of our family."
Hastert pleaded guilty in late October to failing to abide by bank reporting requirements in connection with the alleged $3.5 million pay off agreement with a man known in court records as Individual A, who did not testify at today's hearing.
Individual A submitted a letter to the court describing Hastert's sexual abuse against him when he was 14.
Individual A filed a lawsuit Monday against Hastert, seeking $1.8 million, the remaining amount of the $3.5 million agreement. Hastert is said to have already paid the man $1.7 million.
The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Illinois released a statement after Hastert's sentencing.
"With this case, the Office sought to hold Mr. Hastert accountable for the crimes he committed that could still be prosecuted: illegally structuring cash withdrawals and lying to the government about his motive for engaging in that activity," the statement said. "All of us have been inspired by the strength and bravery of the victims and witnesses who came forward in the most challenging of circumstances. As in all cases, the Office is dedicated to doing everything we can to help victims and their families seek justice. It is our hope that the sentence imposed today will promote respect for the law."