A Montana woman says the FBI interviewed her last month about her allegations that her brother was sexually abused while in high school by Dennis Hastert, the wrestling coach who would become speaker of the House.
In an exclusive interview Friday on Good Morning America, Jolene Burdge said Hastert had been a father figure to her brother, Stephen Reinboldt, in high school. But she also said she believed that relationship had caused irreparable harm.
“He damaged Steve, I think, more than any of us will ever know,” she said.
Burdge said the allegations came to light when Reinboldt came out as gay to his sister.
“I asked him, ‘Steve, what was your first same-sex experience?’ And he just looked at me and said, ‘It was with Dennis Hastert,'” she said.
Hastert was charged last week in a federal indictment that alleges he agreed to pay $3.5 million to someone from Yorkville, the Illinois town where he taught and coached high school wrestling, so the person would stay quiet about “prior misconduct.” The federal indictment, announced May 28, accuses Hastert of evading bank regulations in withdrawing hundreds of thousands of dollars and lying to the FBI about the reason for the withdrawals.
Burdge said the FBI interviewed her in mid-May about Hastert. Reinboldt graduated from Yorkville High School in 1971 and that Hastert was his teacher and wrestling coach. Hastert was a teacher and coach in Yorkville from 1965 to 1981, according to the indictment.
A person familiar with the allegations in the indictment has told the AP that the payments mentioned in the indictment were intended to conceal claims that the Illinois Republican sexually molested someone decades ago. The person spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is 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 and the FBI did not respond to a request for comment.
Reinboldt died in Los Angeles in 1995 at the age of 42. Burdge told ABC that he died of AIDS. Hastert attended the funeral, where Burdge confronted him, she said.
“I want you to know that your secret didn’t die in there with my brother, and I want you to remember that I’m out here, and I know,” she said she told him.
Burdge said she decided to tell her brother’s story in hopes that other victims will come forward to help the FBI with its investigation.
Source: 7 Online