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Crime & Courts

Judge rejects Hastert attorneys' camera ban request

Attorneys for Dennis Hastert appeared in Kendall County Court before Judge Robert Pilmer on Friday, Aug. 11.
Attorneys for Dennis Hastert appeared in Kendall County Court before Judge Robert Pilmer on Friday, Aug. 11.

A Kendall County judge has rejected a request from attorneys representing former House Speaker Dennis Hastert to ban cameras and audio from courtroom proceedings related to a lawsuit filed by an unnamed, alleged abuse victim.

Media outlets sought "extended media coverage," which would allow still and video cameras as well as audio in the courtroom during the proceedings. Hastert attorney John C. Ellis of Chicago argued that such coverage could influence a jury and violate Hastert's privacy due to the "serious and sensitive allegations."

Ellis argued that media coverage would conflate this lawsuit, filed by Richard Doe, with other lawsuits filed against Hastert related to sexual abuse charges leveled against the former Republican Speaker of the House.

Peter J. Evans of the Patterson Law Firm of Chicago, representing the client Richard Doe, argued that Hastert is "very much a public figure" and that there will be "media coverage regardless" whether cameras and audio are allowed in the courtroom.

However, Judge Robert Pilmer approved the extended media coverage request, stating that it's "important for the legal process that the proceedings be open."

Richard Doe has accused Hastert of molesting him in a former state game farm building in the 1970s when he was a student at Yorkville Grade School. The building used to sit where the current Yorkville High School parking lot is located on Game Farm Road.

Richard Doe's lawsuit was filed in May. The Patterson Law Firm is also representing a person known as Individual A, a former Yorkville student who initially accused Hastert of abuse and whose hush-money agreement with Hastert led to the federal indictment and conviction of the former speaker for banking violations.

Hastert was convicted and sentenced for those violations in April 2016, and was released from the Federal Medical Center in Rochester, Minn., in July to serve the remainder of his sentence either at a halfway house or home confinement. His sentence expires Aug. 16.

Pilmer set a date for the next court hearing as Nov. 3 at 10 a.m. at the Kendall County Courthouse in Yorkville.

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