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Crime & Courts

Judge: Doe’s wife can be deposed in Hastert lawsuit

Dennis Hastert
Dennis Hastert

Attorneys for former House Speaker Dennis Hastert will be able to depose the wife of a man suing Hastert for breach of contract over hush money payments, a Kendall County judge ruled recently.

The man, named in the civil lawsuit as James Doe, accused Hastert of sexually abusing him while Hastert was a teacher at Yorkville High School. Hastert taught at the high school and coached wrestling between 1965 and 1981.

Hastert’s attorneys subpoenaed both Doe’s wife and Doe’s mental health care provider.

Attorneys for Doe argued that Hastert’s attorneys did not attempt to schedule the depositions of the two until Oct. 19, when there were several deadlines set for depositions over the past year by Kendall County Judge Robert Pilmer, who is overseeing the case.

Attorney Peter Evans, representing Doe, argued in court during a Nov. 30 hearing that the depositions would only bring up subjects that “don’t have much bearing on the case.”

“The purpose of it seems more to continue to bring plaintiff’s family members in for depositions to discuss painful subjects that really don’t have much bearing on the case,” he said. “So I would say the relevance here is minimal, and the burden that it places on these witnesses is significant.”

Evans acknowledged that there had been “limited testimony” during depositions that Doe’s wife told her sister about the hush money payments.

“I don’t know what more is relevant beyond that, what else there is to gain,” Evans said. “And certainly any records from their marriage counseling has no bearing on this case at all. It’s just a further attempt to pry into their personal lives.”

However, John Ellis, an attorney representing Hastert, argued that the issue was relevant in that the wife breached the confidentiality of the hush money agreement.

“The relevance is not minimal,” he said. “The central issue of this case is, whether the alleged contract’s confidentiality obligations were honored or not. And the testimony of both of these witnesses goes directly to that.”

Evans argued that the sister knew about the money but that there were no conversations about the agreement.

“The testimony that is cited by counsel as far as communications with the plaintiff’s wife are not to specific conversations or even to conversations in general; it’s, ‘She was aware that we were receiving money,’” Evans said. “I don’t know how you could expect plaintiff’s wife to not know that her spouse received $1.7 million.”

Evans said he didn’t “see a reason why these [subpoenas] could not have been issued earlier, other than to continue to delay the case.”

Pilmer ruled that Doe’s wife can be deposed, but that questioning must be limited to asking her about “her source of knowledge as to the agreement, who it came from, what she may understand the agreement to be, and whether she communicated it to any other person.” The deposition would be limited to one hour, Pilmer ruled. Pilmer said he expects the deposition to be completed by the end of December.

However, Pilmer agreed with Evans and quashed the subpoena for the mental health professional.

The next status hearing for the case was set for 10 a.m. Jan. 9 at the Kendall County Courthouse in Yorkville.

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