So, former House Speaker Dennis Hastert
has been indicted for making illegal payments and covering them up. What was he covering up? Hastert paid an unnamed man $3.5 million to keep the man silent about Hastert's abusing him when he was a minor and Hastert taught high school. The abuse happened, at the latest, in 1981. It's way, way too late for the victim -- I think we can assume the story's true or Hastert wouldn't have coughed up that much money -- to have gotten a day in court. This would have been the only way to make Hastert pay for his crime. You do the best you can under law.
All that said, Hastert isn't being prosecuted for the abuse. Hastert is being prosecuted, essentially, for having been blackmailed. According to the New York Times, the indictment was for making "cash withdrawals designed to hide those payments and for lying to federal authorities about the purpose of the withdrawals." If you're being blackmailed, you have
to cover up the payments, because otherwise the whole thing goes public.
Hastert is almost certainly an abuser, and this looks like a case of "prosecute him for tax fraud, because we can't get him for his major crimes." But this still disturbs me. Hastert didn't steal the money, and there's no evidence that he didn't pay taxes on it. He just did his best to keep the transfer out of the news.
The article is (trigger warning!) full of people saying "He's such a great guy, I can't understand how this happened." You would think by now that the nation would have realized that abusers usually come across as nice guys to other adults, and that character isn't a single unitary thing. "He talked a great show" is not synonymous with "He couldn't have done anything wrong to a child."