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“The Squeaky Clean Republican Leader”: After Admitting Sex Crimes, Former House Speaker Headed To Prison

Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert has been accused of sexually abusing four teenaged boys during his tenure as a high school coach many years ago, but the statute of limitations has expired and he cannot face charges for these misdeeds. The Illinois Republican was, however, arrested for lying to the FBI about covering up his sex crimes.

And this afternoon, it was this misconduct that will put Hastert behind bars.

Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert was sentenced Wednesday to 15 months in prison for illegal cash withdrawals he made for payoffs to cover up sex-abuse allegations after the judge called him a “serial child molester.”

Before issuing his sentence, Judge Thomas M. Durkin pressed the former House Speaker on the details of his misconduct, asking Hastert directly if he sexually abused his victims. “Yes,” Hastert said, publicly acknowledging this for the first time. He added, “What I did was wrong and I regret it. They looked to me and I took advantage of them.”

In an additional gut-wrenching detail, one of these victims, Scott Cross, testified today that Hastert molested him when Cross was a teenager. Cross is the younger brother of former Illinois House Republican leader Tom Cross, who looked up to Hastert as a political mentor.

Hastert actually asked Tom Cross for a letter of support as part of his criminal case, despite the fact that Hastert molested his younger brother.

As part of this morning’s proceedings, the judge in the case explained, in reference to Hastert’s political career, “Sometimes actions can obliterate a lifetime of good works.” The judge referred to Hastert three times as a “serial child molester.”

In a breathtaking letter to the judge, former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) recently wrote, “We all have our flaws, but Dennis Hastert has very few.” DeLay added that Hastert “doesn’t deserve what he is going through.”

Evidently, that didn’t prove persuasive.

There is, of course, the human element of this heartbreaking story, and the anguish felt by Hastert’s victims and their families. And then there are the political implications: the longest serving Republican House Speaker in American history, a man who was two heartbeats from the presidency of the United States for eight years, appears to have spent part of his life as a serial child molester, unbeknownst to anyone except Hastert and his victims.

As we discussed a few weeks ago, from 1998 to 2006, House Republicans suffered one ugly scandal after another. Democrats used the “culture of corruption” label to great effect because it was true – from Gingrich to Livingston, DeLay to Cunningham, Ney to Foley, the GOP’s House majority just couldn’t stay out of trouble.

But no matter how many scandals surrounded House Republicans, GOP officials pointed to the humble Speaker from Illinois as the squeaky clean leader, elevated to the post from relative obscurity because of his above-the-fray reputation.

And now we know his conduct was far worse than any of his colleagues’.

In addition to his 15-month sentence, Hastert will also reportedly have to pay a $250,000 fine and take part in sex-offender programs.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog,  April 27, 2016

April 28, 2016 Posted by | Dennis Hastert, House Republicans, Sexual Molestation, Speaker of The House of Representatives | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Tell The Truth And Shame The Devil”: Why Diehard Defenders Will Never Stop Believing Bill Cosby Is Innocent

My grandmother loved her Jesus, her husband, and her pastor—and not always in that order. Say a foul word about one or the other and you had better tell it walking.

Bill Cosby is not a pastor and, if your name is not Camille, he almost certainly is not your husband. But for some people, it seems, Cosby is a god—deified based on his career as a legendary comedian and actor, a Hollywood icon who generously invested countless millions in historically black institutions.

When I was invited to write a cover story for Ebony magazine and offer an analysis of that legacy, I accepted the assignment with both honor and trepidation. My focus was not on the allegations but on how Cosby’s widely acclaimed, record-breaking television show came to be the standard against which black families would be measured—by others and by us. What social model did it reinforce, and does its power endure in the face of Cosby’s crumbling public reputation?

Over the course of 72 breathtaking hours, I interviewed dozens of thought leaders, cultural experts, industry veterans, and academicians about that legacy and how deeply it was intertwined with his on-screen fictional persona, Heathcliff Huxtable. An excerpt of the cover story was released online Thursday afternoon.

As the cover art began to circulate on social media, both support and pushback began almost immediately. The cover, a framed photograph of the fictional Huxtable family behind shattered glass, evoked strong feelings, even before the 3,000-word story itself hit newsstands. Some voices were glad to see the story about how Cosby’s legacy and that of his alter ego, Cliff, have been challenged in recent months. Others cried foul, angered because they believe Cosby himself is “under attack.”

“It’s difficult for black people to accept the idea that Cosby could be guilty…” University of Connecticut professor Jelani Cobb told me recently. “Certainly the long history of prominent African Americans being torn down in public lends itself to the idea that Cosby is being targeted because of his wealth and influence.”

I have been reporting on and writing about the impact of the rape allegations since comedian Hannibal Buress unceremoniously outed Cosby last year. Truth be told, Cosby’s sexual proclivities were the biggest un-kept secret in Hollywood. When he came and left town, people talked. So Buress was only saying what many already believed.

My grandmother might have been proud to see my writing land on the cover of Ebony, long heralded as the bible of black celebrity, culture, and social progress. Inarguably, though, she would not have approved of me writing about a man she revered in her living days. Still, even in her disappointment, Grandma Alice would have been quick to say, “Tell the truth and shame the Devil.”

I stuffed away my own experiences, forgot for a moment that I had been the victim of child molestation and later drugged and raped by a high school football coach. I forgot who I was and focused on the women. I interviewed two dozen people who are experts on everything from rape culture to television programming, from the evolution of parenting to the impact of the Reagan-era “war on drugs.”

I had almost grown numb to the increasing number of women who claim Cosby drugged and raped them. The allegations stretch back nearly 50 years and, if the allegations are true, he did not discriminate.

They women are black, white, middle class, wealthy, and poor. Some are household names, while others could slip in and out of the local grocery store with little notice. They have long hair, short hair. They are graying brunettes and strawberry blondes. There is even one outsize Afro. They are former supermodels, actresses, talent agency secretaries, dancers, and cocktail servers.

Frankly, I thought I was over it. I thought I had successfully put it all behind me. Then came Thursday.

As I scrolled through my Twitter mentions, raising a brow (and a mute button) to objectors who had plenty to say but who had not read the unreleased story, a colleague circulated a related news item. In the middle of our afternoon editorial meeting, I sat staring at my laptop.

“She was a gawt-damned kid,” I muttered to myself.

I kept saying it, over and over again, as I read and reread the news. Another woman had come forward Wednesday to file a civil lawsuit. It appears Renita Chaney Hill was, at the time of her alleged assault, the youngest Cosby victim.

Hill says she was still in high school when she met him. In the lawsuit, she accuses him of plying her with alcohol that caused her to black out and says she woke up “oftentimes nude, disheveled, confused and disoriented.”

She was a teenager, just a couple of years older than me. “She was a gawt-damned kid,” I said again.

Now about 50 years old, Hill is suing because she believes Cosby, his attorney, and his wife made particularly defamatory public statements after she went public with her story. According to the court filing, Hill is alleging defamation and “intentional infliction of emotional distress.” She claims their actions were “egregious in nature.”

To say I was disappointed about the initial round of allegations is an understatement, even if I have always been bothered by Cosby’s brand of respectability politics. For the record, I do not question the veracity of the women’s stories based on the number of years it took them to come forward. After all, it took me nearly three decades to speak up about what happened to me.

“Mr. Cosby’s vast resources and high-priced team retaliating against his accusers—that deterred women coming forward for years, and still scares them even now,” Lisa Bloom, a lawyer for model and Cosby accuser Janice Dickinson, told me as I was researching the Ebony cover piece.

“When women speak their truth out loud, it is empowering,” Bloom continued. “Let the perpetrator hide his head in shame. Let him close the door and remain quiet.”

Dr. Cobb was right when he said, “It’s too early to tell what Cosby’s legacy will be ultimately.” It is a complicated question, but one that deserves to be asked.

However, if your defense of Cosby means blindly accepting his innocence, if it involves defaming, marginalizing, and lobbing salacious personal attacks at his accusers: Tell it walking.

 

By: Goldie Taylor, The Daily Beast, October 15, 2015

October 17, 2015 Posted by | Bill Cosby, Black Families, Rape, Sexual Molestation | , , , , , | 2 Comments

“The Real Scandal In Denny Hastert’s Life”: Immersed In The Immoral Swamp Of Washington’s Game Of Money Politics

Washington’s establishment of politicos, lobbyists, and media sparklies are shocked — shocked to their very core! — by the scandalous sexual revelations about Dennis Hastert.

The portly Republican, who’d been Speaker of the House a decade ago, was an affable, nondescript Midwesterner who was popular with his fellow lawmakers. A former high-school wrestling coach in rural Illinois, Hastert was viewed as a solid salt-of-the-Earth fellow embodying Middle America’s moral values. So his recent indictment for paying $1.7 million in hush money to a man he apparently molested during his coaching years has rocked our Capitol.

“I’m shocked and saddened,” said the current GOP Speaker, John Boehner. Likewise, former colleagues from both sides of the aisle were dismayed that “our Denny” would have been engaged in child molestation and now caught in an illegal financial cover-up of that abomination. “This has really come out of nowhere,” exclaimed Rep. Peter King, a longtime ally of the man whom all of Washington considered a straight arrow.

Washington’s gossip mill is spinning furiously over last week’s revelations. Before we join these officials in wailing about Dennis Hastert’s alleged long-hidden molestation, however, let me note that while they are bewildered by his sexual impropriety, they find it not worthy of mention — much less condemnation — that Denny has long been immersed in the immoral swamp of Washington’s game of money politics. The guy they profess to love as a paragon of civic virtue — “the coach,” as Rep. King hailed him — was one of the most corrupt Speakers ever. What about the filthy, backroom affair he has been openly conducting with corporate lobbyists for nearly two decades?

During his tenure as House Speaker, Hastert turned the place into the Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory of corporate favors. By putting campaign cash into Republican re-election coffers controlled by him and his top hitman, Majority Leader Tom DeLay, corporate interests gained entry into Denny’s psychedelic playhouse. With Hastert himself singing “Candy Man,” the favor seekers could help themselves to the river of chocolate running through Congress’ back rooms.

Remember “earmarks,” the sneaky tactic of letting congressional leaders secretly funnel appropriations to favored corporations and projects? Earmarks became the trademark of Hastert’s regime, sticking taxpayers with the tab for such outrages as Alaska’s “Bridge to Nowhere.” Indeed, Denny grabbed a $200 million earmark for himself, funding an Illinois highway near land he owned — land he then sold, netting millions in personal profit.

When he left Congress, Hastert moved just a short limo ride away to become — what else? — a corporate lobbyist. Trading on his former title, personal ties to House members and knowledge of how the chocolate factory runs, he has been hauling in a fortune as a high-dollar influence peddler for makers of candy-flavored cigarettes, Peabody Coal Company, land developers and other giants. And guess what his specialty is? Getting “riders” attached to appropriations bills, so public money is channeled directly to his clients.

Hastert openly traded legislative favors for campaign cash, including profiting personally from his powerful position. And, when he was squeezed out because of the corruption, he didn’t return to the home folks — he became a K-Street lobbyist, continuing to profit to this day by doing corporate favors. That’s how he got so rich he was able to shell out $1.7 million in hush money to the student he abused.

Good ol’ Denny has always thought he was above the law. Just as Hastert should be held accountable for the deep personal damage his alleged molestation would’ve done to his former student, so should he also pay for his abominably indecent abuse of office, his self-gratifying groping of public funds and his repeated, sticky-fingered violations of the American people’s public trust.

 

By: Jim Hightower, The National Memo, June 3, 3015

June 5, 2015 Posted by | Corporate Welfare, Dennis Hastert, Sexual Molestation | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

   

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