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Crime & Courts

Appeals court hears Hastert accuser's case to reverse dismissal

Richard Doe attorney argues against statute of limitations

ELGIN – A three-judge panel heard oral arguments April 26 at the Second District Appellate Court in Elgin seeking the right to continue a civil case against former U.S. House of Representatives Speaker J. Dennis Hastert for sexual abuse.

A Kendall County judge had dismissed the civil lawsuit filed against Hastert by a plaintiff identified in court documents as Richard Doe.

The plaintiff alleged that Hastert sodomized him in a public restroom in the early 1970s when Hastert was a teacher and coach at Yorkville High School. The plaintiff also alleged that when he went to the state’s attorney in the 1980s to file a complaint about it, he was discouraged and threatened.

“For a fourth-grader, this was an extremely confusing event,” the plaintiff’s attorney, Kristi Browne, said. “But perhaps even more confusing for a fourth-grader in the 1970s.”

By 1985, the plaintiff began to realize the nature of what had happened to him, and “that it was wrong and it wasn’t his fault,” Browne said.

He went to then Kendall County State’s Attorney Dallas Ingemunson, but was rebuffed, Browne said, as the state’s attorney was an associate of Hastert’s.

Ingemunson told the plaintiff that he would be charged criminally or civilly for slandering Hastert’s name to discourage him from pursuing charges, Browne said.

The statute of limitations allows a childhood victim of sexual abuse two years after turning 18 years old, but the plaintiff was not sure if he was 20 or 21 when he went to see Ingemunson.

Ingemunson’s response should reset the timing and extend the statute of limitations, Browne said.

Ingemunson has denied ever handling such a complaint and Hastert has denied the allegation.

Hastert attorney John Ellis argued that the day a minor who was aware of being sexually abused turns 18, the two-year statute of limitations begins.

A statute of limitations applies to all – from janitors to the Speaker of the House, even when the allegation is “loathsome,” Ellis said.

The judges said they would take the case under advisement.

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