YORKVILLE – A status hearing was delayed Monday for an out-of-court settlement between former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert and a man who claims the former lawmaker sexually abused him as a child and then refused to pay him $1.8 million for his silence.
Kendall County court officials confirmed Monday lawyers for both parties “needed more time” to draft the settlement agreement. The status hearing for that agreement, along with a potential order to dismiss the case, was rescheduled to go before 23rd Circuit Chief Judge Robert Pilmer via Zoom at 11 a.m. Thursday.
The update comes after attorneys for both the plaintiff and Hastert on Sept. 15 declined to provide any settlement details – including whether Hastert agreed to pay the man and, if so, how much – in the case, which was set to go to trial last week. Legal counsel on both sides planned to hammer out a written agreement in the coming days and notify Pilmer when it is completed.
Kristi Browne, lawyer for a man identified as “James Doe” who is suing Hastert, previously declined to say whether the judge’s decision to make her client’s name public at trial entered into his recent decision to settle.
After five years in court, Pilmer ruled earlier this month the real name of the man who accused Hastert of the sexual abuse, Doe, would become public at the start of the previously scheduled jury trial for the $1.8 million breach-of-contract lawsuit against the former speaker. The trial originally was scheduled to start Sept. 20 but Pilmer struck the jury trial dates after the parties subsequently agreed to negotiate a settlement, according to Kendall County court documents.
The case was pushed back “for presentation of a signed stipulation and order to dismiss” at an 11 a.m. Sept. 23 court hearing, according to court documents. Details of the settlement are expected to remain confidential and not be filed publicly in the court system.
Typically, a judge would file an order to dismiss once they receive signed settlement agreements, confidential or not, from all parties and the documents are to the court’s satisfaction. The order to dismiss could be filed after a court hearing or could be filed beforehand if the judge receives all of the documents they would need to file the order.
The case stems from an alleged $3.5 million in hush money Hastert allegedly agreed to pay Doe in a confidentiality agreement. Doe, a former student and wrestler at Yorkville High School, accused the former Republican U.S. House speaker of sexually abusing him while Hastert was a teacher and wrestling coach at the school. Doe alleged that Hastert paid him only about half of the proposed $3.5 million in hush money.
Doe was suing Hastert for the remaining $1.8 million of the hush money, plus interest. Hastert allegedly paid Doe $1.7 million between 2010 and 2014, according to court documents.
Hastert also was countersuing Doe for the amount already paid, alleging that Doe violated their confidentiality agreement.
During a March 13, 2020, hearing, Pilmer heard three dozen motions in limine – a legal tool used to determine what evidence can be accessed during a trial and by whom – from Browne and Ellis. It followed Pilmer overruling objections from Browne in allowing Hastert’s counsel to pursue the out-of-state witnesses during a March 2, 2020, hearing.
Hastert served as a U.S. congressman from 1987 to 2007 and was House speaker between 1999 and 2007, the longest term of any Republican to date.
Hastert previously served 13 months in federal prison for banking violations related to the hush money scheme and was released in 2017. The former speaker lives in Kendall County.