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 last month 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, told her in 1979, years after leaving school, that he was gay. Reinboldt died in 1995.
“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.
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. CNN was told on Friday that it’s highly unlikely that her claims will be verified by law enforcement because her brother died 20 years ago.
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.
Hastert and the FBI declined to comment to ABC on the report. A woman who answered the phone at Hastert’s office on Thursday said the former speaker was unavailable and took a message. Burdge has not yet responded to CNN request for comment.
Although Hastert and his attorney have not responded to questions for comment, he did deny the allegations to ABC when they first arose in 2006.
The charges in the current indictment allege that Hastert agreed to provide “Individual A” $3.5 million to keep quiet about allegations of sexual abuse, multiple law enforcement officials have said.
A source told CNN earlier this week that the FBI spoke to a second person as part of the investigation that was alleging to be a second victim, but was not receiving any payments from the former speaker.
Burdge’s allegations are separate from those two accounts, CNN has learned. Burdge told ABC that she did not know who “Individual A” is.
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.
Kendall County State’s Attorney Eric Weiss told CNN on Tuesday that his office did a “quick check on anything regarding Dennis Hastert and found nothing,” according to Kendall County State’s Attorney Eric Weiss. Weiss says nobody has contacted their office since the indictment either.
Hastert has a court hearing scheduled for June 9.