WASHINGTON — 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.
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.”
Jolene Burdge of Billings, Montana, told The Associated Press on Thursday that the FBI interviewed her in mid-May about Hastert. She said her brother told her before he died in 1995 that his first homosexual contact was with Hastert and that the relationship lasted through all of his high school years.
Burdge would not disclose her brother’s name to AP but said he 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.
In an interview aired Friday on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Burdge identified her brother as Stephen Reinboldt, and said Hastert had been a father figure to him at 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 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 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 did not respond to a message left on his cellphone early Friday. Emails and phone messages sent to his son, Ethan Hastert, were also not answered.
Article continues belowThe FBI did not respond to a request for comment on Burdge’s allegations.
An obituary published in The (Aurora) Beacon News said Reinboldt had “a unique and fascinating mind” and was drawn to the arts, especially film, drama and music.