Man’s sis­ter ac­cuses Hastert

Los Angeles Times - - THE NATION -

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.

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