Hastert was accused of making illegal cash withdrawals after agreeing to pay $3.5 million to keep secret sexual abuse allegations from Hastert’s days as a high school wrestling coach in Illinois.
The Chicago Tribune reports the judge had harsh words for the 74-year-old Hastert during Wednesday’s hearing.
U.S. District Judge Thomas M. Durkin called Hastert a “serial child molester” and said he would have given a lengthier prison term if not for Hastert’s age and declining health.
Hastert was not charged with a sex offense, but admitted to those accusations.
Shortly before learning his sentence, Hastert had admitted for the first time that he sexually abused boys decades ago when he was the wrestling coach for Yorkville High School.
Hastert approached the microphone in court and apologized to those he victimized, saying he “mistreated athletes.” Durkin then asked directly if Hastert sexually abused the victims.
“Yes,” Hastert finally said.
The 15 month sentence was more than the six months prosecutors had asked for. Hastert’s attorney had requested a term of probation, citing Hastert’s age and ill health.
When he was in Congress, and during his time as speaker, Hastert pushed for harsh sentences for child molesters.
In Congress, Hastert supported the Child Abuse Prevention and Enforcement Act of 2000, which among other measures, sought to prevent and punish the sexual abuse of minors.
And in 2003, when Utah teenager Elizabeth Smart was recovered after being kidnapped, sexually assaulted and held captive for nine months, Hastert took a strong stance in a statement.
“It is important to have a national notification system to help safely recover children kidnapped by child predators,” he said. “But it is equally important to stop those predators before they strike, to put repeat child molesters into jail for the rest of their lives and to help law enforcement with the tools they need to get the job done.”