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Crime & Courts

Alleged Hastert victim Doe can sue anonymously, judge rules

Kristi Browne, attorney for Richard Doe, addresses reporters outside the Kendall County Courthouse in Yorkville on Tuesday, May 30.
Kristi Browne, attorney for Richard Doe, addresses reporters outside the Kendall County Courthouse in Yorkville on Tuesday, May 30.

A Kendall County judge has ruled that the plaintiff in a new sex abuse lawsuit against former House Speaker Dennis Hastert can remain anonymous.

Judge Robert Pilmer held a hearing Tuesday morning on the lawsuit, and ruled that the plaintiff, Richard Doe, can remain anonymous and does not have to reveal his real name. The next hearing on the lawsuit was set for Aug. 11.

Attorney Kristi Browne of the Patterson Law Firm in Chicago, representing Doe, appeared before Pilmer. Hastert's attorneys were not present at the hearing, and Browne informed Pilmer that Hastert had not yet been served with a copy of the lawsuit.

Hastert is housed at the Federal Medical Center in Rochester, Minn., with a formal release date of Aug. 16. Hastert is serving the remainder of his term for banking violations, which stemmed from a hush-money agreement he had with a former student who also accused him of abuse.

During a press conference held after the hearing, Browne shed light on some of the reasoning behind the suit.

"I think as we've alleged in the complaint, this plaintiff was intimidated in a way that prevented him from filing," Browne said. "He felt very concerned about himself and what might happen to him if he filed this lawsuit, and after the [federal] indictment, he decided to come forward."

Browne was asked about an investigation conducted by the Kendall County Sheriff's Office last year into Richard Doe's allegations. She said she was aware of the investigation. A Sheriff's Office spokesman said no charges had been filed as the issue was beyond the statute of limitations.

“Based upon information provided by the victim regarding an offense that was alleged to have occurred over 40 years ago, the Kendall County Sheriff’s Office, Kendall County State’s Attorney and Yorkville Police Department determined that the statute of limitations for prosecution of such an offense as alleged by the victim had expired, and the criminal investigation into the matter has been closed," Nancy Velez, a Sheriff's Office spokesman, said.

Browne said she doesn't believe that that statute of limitations has expired on criminal charges against Hastert for the alleged abuse, unlike the previous allegations of abuse against the former Speaker.

"We don't believe it has [expired]; we have some arguments we intend to make in court and I'm sure it will come up," she said.

Browne also addressed her client's alleged past criminal history.

"I think my client got into some trouble as a young man," she said. "I don't think that's necessarily remarkable for somebody who had been abused."

Browne said her client is seeking compensation for "his physical and emotional suffering as the result of this attack." She said he is not seeking a specific amount, but that a jury would typically determine that if they find Hastert is at fault.

Browne also stressed that the Yorkville School has "not been named a defendant" in the lawsuit.

"We haven't sued the school district," she said. "We have named the school district in discovery so that we can try and get some initial information on what their knowledge may or may not have been at the time."

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