Tags: Mel Watt | knew | Dennis Hastert | allegations | sexual abuse | indictment | hush money

Huff. Post: Lawmaker Knew of Hastert Sex Abuse Allegations

By    |   Tuesday, 02 Jun 2015 07:27 PM

One lawmaker said he was aware of allegations leveled at former House Speaker Dennis Hastert regarding sexual abuse of a minor but did not think there was enough to the "rumors" to do anything about them.

According to a Huffington Post report,  Rep. Mel Watt , D-N.C., was approached by someone early in Hastert's term as House Speaker, which stretched from 1999-2007. The Post cited a source as saying Watt knew about Hastert's dark past that included sexually molesting a young boy when Hastert was a high school teacher and wrestling coach.

Last week, Hastert was charged with structuring bank withdrawals totaling $952,000 in order to stay under $10,000 per transaction and, therefore, keep each transaction away from the eyes of federal authorities. He was also charged with lying about the withdrawals.

Hastert is alleged to have paid the victim $3.5 million in hush money.

In the Huffington Post report, Watt confirmed he was approached by someone about Hastert's alleged abuse, but he shook it off as "an unseemly rumor."

"Over 15 years ago I heard an unseemly rumor from someone who, contrary to what has been reported, was not an intermediary or advocate for the alleged victim's family," Watt said. "It would not be the first nor last time that I, as a Member of Congress, would hear rumors or innuendoes about colleagues. I had no direct knowledge of any abuse by former Speaker Hastert and, therefore, took no action."

The Post reached out to several other former members of Congress who served while Hastert was House Speaker, including some close to Watt, and concluded none of them had any knowledge of Hastert's past.

Hastert's reputation has crumbled since the story became public last week. A Christian college near Chicago, for example, removed his name  from its academic research center because of the allegations.

Others, including friends and former colleagues, are shocked over the indictments and the allegations of sexual abuse.

"The Denny I served with worked hard on behalf of his constituents and the country," current House speaker John Boehner said. "I'm shocked and saddened to learn of these reports."

Said Republican and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, "It doesn't make any sense to me. It certainly seems very much out of character."

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One lawmaker said he was aware of allegations leveled at former House Speaker Dennis Hastert regarding sexual abuse of a minor but did not think there was enough to the "rumors" to do anything about them.
Mel Watt, knew, Dennis Hastert, allegations, sexual abuse, indictment, hush money
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2015-27-02
Tuesday, 02 Jun 2015 07:27 PM
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