Man’s sister accuses Hastert
WASHINGTON — A Montana woman says her brother was sexually abused by former House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert when the Republican leader was a wrestling coach at a suburban Chicago high school.
Jolene Burdge of Billings, Mont., told the Associated Press that the FBI interviewed her in May about Hastert, who was charged last week in a federal indictment alleging that he agreed in 2010 to pay $3.5 million to someone so that person would stay quiet about “prior misconduct.”
She said her brother told her before he died in 1995 that his first homosexual contact was with Hastert and that it lasted throughout his high school years.
Stephen Reinboldt attended Yorkville High School, where Hastert was a history teacher and coach from 1965 to 1981.
In an interview aired Friday on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Burdge said Hastert had been a father figure to her brother but also caused him irreparable harm.
“He damaged Steve, I think, more than any of us will ever know,” she told the morning show.
The AP could not independently verify her allegations.
A person familiar with the allegations in the indictment has told the AP that the payments mentioned in the document were intended to conceal claims that the Illinois Republican sexually molested someone decades ago. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing.
Hastert has not been charged with sexual abuse. But Burdge’s story indicates there could be more victims beyond the “Individual A” named in the indictment.
Hastert did not respond to a message left on his cellphone Friday. An FBI spokeswoman declined to comment on Burdge’s allegations.
Reinboldt died in Los An- geles in 1995 at age 42. Burdge told ABC that he died of AIDS.
He was a manager of the wrestling team that Hastert coached, the AP found. He was also manager of the football team, student council president and a member of the pep club, letterman’s club, the French club and the yearbook staff. Reinboldt graduated in 1971 and later moved to the L.A. area, where he worked for Columbia Pictures in sales and distribution. He also worked for software companies.
Burdge said her brother told her about his past with Hastert in 1979, after she graduated high school, but did not bring his story into the open because he feared “nobody would believe him.”
“He spent his life trying to run away from it and trying to dull the pain,” she said.