YORKVILLE – A Kendall County judge denied a motion to allow lawyers for a man identified as James Doe to share a confidential deposition from former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert with federal officials in a $1.8 million breach of contract lawsuit between the two.
During a Friday, Sept. 13 hearing, Kendall County Chief Judge Robert Pilmer denied the motion filed three days before by lawyers for Doe, who is suing Hastert for not paying in full an allegedly agreed upon $3.5 million in hush money. Doe's lawyer Kristi Browne requested in the motion to amend the protective order imposed by Pilmer so she could, in part, share a September 2018 deposition with federal officials that could support that Hastert may have lied under oath in court.
“I have some obligation to take some remedial measures with regard to what is potentially perjury, and I’d like to do so,” Browne said.
Pilmer said he denied the order, saying there would not be any further purpose served in granting Browne's motion. That would mean Browne can't repeat or summarize the deposition when she goes to file a motion with U.S. District Judge Thomas Durkin, who heard the federal banking charges case against Hastert.
"I think that you have the appropriate documents that you would need to confront him and those documents have his signature on them," Pilmer said.
The motion was filed by Browne with the deposition transcript from Hastert, which was recently obtained by Chicago news outlets, was supposed to be under seal, but lawyers in the case and court officials say an unredacted version was filed and briefly made publicly available within court records. The documents were originally filed under seal but appeared to be accidentally unsealed by circuit clerk office employees.
Chicago Tribune and WMAQ-Ch. 5 Chicago reported that Hastert, now 77, said he never sexually abused Doe when he was a wrestling coach and teacher at Yorkville High School and that he only was treating a pulled groin injury at Doe's request. Hastert said in the deposition he was reading off of a statement written by lawyers, which he said he didn't completely agree with, when he apologized to the boys he mistreated while he was their coach during the 2016 federal banking charges hearing, the news outlets reported.
Pilmer said he wanted to address the matter in court during the Friday, Sept. 13 hearing, saying he has confidence in the county's circuit clerk and deputy clerks and that they are upset with themselves that this happened.
"I don't believe it was intentional on the part of the plaintiff or his attorneys, or the law firm staff or anybody to have that happen," Pilmer said. "I don't believe it was intentional on the part of the clerk's office for that to happen."
John Ellis, Hastert's lawyer, said he opposed the motion because he believed there was no reason to have the full deposition transcript for what he believes is the fifth time. He said the time to include evidence admissible in court has passed, Doe and his lawyers had the transcript for about a year now and Pilmer has denied motions allowing depositions to be admitted several times before in the course of the case.
Even if the confidential deposition is filed in court under seal, Ellis said, the likelihood that it will be published for public viewing increases every time it is filed.
"The defendant has already been prejudiced and I ask that you deny the motion," Ellis said.
Browne said her next steps following the judge denying her motion include filing a motion with federal court to see if Doe's counsel can get access to some materials in the federal criminal case that have been sealed, including materials potentially submitted to the grand jury or testimony. She said she is not sure whether those materials would include proof that he appeared before a grand jury.
“I’m concerned that he will take a position that is different than the written statements I have from federal court,” Browne said.
The update comes after Pilmer denied summary judgment motions from counsel for Doe and Hastert via a written order filed Tuesday, Sept. 10, which could have expedited the lawsuit if it were granted.
“As far as I know, it’s going to trial in November,” Browne said.
Ellis declined additional comment following the hearing.
Hastert served as a congressman from 1987 to 2007 and was U.S. House Speaker between 1999 and 2007. He taught at Yorkville High School and coached wrestling between 1965 and 1981.
The case is due back in court for a status hearing Oct. 2 at Kendall County Courthouse, 807 John St.