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A truly bizarre turn of events

Wednesday, Apr 27, 2016

* Some of us have been hearing for several days now that the “Individual D” in the Dennis Hastert case was none other than the brother of former House Republican Leader Tom Cross. Those rumors were confirmed today when Scott Cross testified.

So, we witnessed the bizarre spectacle of House Republican Leader Jim Durkin’s brother Tom presiding over a sentencing hearing in which the brother of Leader Durkin’s immediate predecessor testified about being molested by the defendant.

You couldn’t write this as a novel because it would be too unbelievable.

* The Tribune got to Scott Cross before anyone else

Scott Cross, 53, said that until recently he never spoke to anyone about what happened in Yorkville High School’s locker room after wrestling practice one night when he stayed behind to try to drop some pounds before his next match. […]

Late one night after practice his senior year, Scott Cross had stayed afterward to “cut weight,” according to the prosecution’s sentencing memo. Hastert suggested a massage could “take some pounds off.” But instead Hastert removed the wrestler’s pants and performed “a sexual act” on him, according to the court filing. […]

His older brother, Tom Cross, 57, of Oswego, is the former longtime Illinois House GOP leader. Tom Cross has credited Hastert with introducing him to political life and helping him ascend to public office.

Hastert asked the former legislator earlier this year if he would write a letter of support for his sentencing, but Tom Cross by then was aware of his brother’s allegation and did not respond, according to sources.

* Former Leader Cross issued a statement today on behalf of the family

“We are very proud of Scott for having the courage to relive this very painful part of his life in order to ensure that justice is done today. We hope his testimony will provide courage and strength to other victims of other cases of abuse to speak out and advocate for themselves. With his testimony concluded, we ask now that you respect Scott’s privacy and that of our family.”

I cannot imagine what it must’ve been like for Scott Cross to watch as his molester helped his brother scale the political heights. And imagine the crushing revulsion Tom Cross experienced when he eventually discovered that his political godfather was a monster. And then to get a request from his own brother’s molester for a kind letter to the judge?

Ugh. Just… ugh.

What a surrealistic nightmare this has become.

And, unfortunately, despite Cross’ request for privacy, I doubt that reporters will let this one go anytime soon. The whole, ugly story will eventually come out.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Apr 27, 16 @ 1:34 pm:

    ===The whole, ugly story will eventually come out.===

    Yep. Too many coincidences to ignore.

  2. - Steve - Wednesday, Apr 27, 16 @ 1:41 pm:

    Where was the media all these years on “moderate” Dennis Hastert?

  3. - Amalia - Wednesday, Apr 27, 16 @ 1:41 pm:

    Scott Cross, you are very brave. And my heart just breaks for the entire Cross family. the situation is just so horrible with layers and layers of pain.

  4. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Apr 27, 16 @ 1:41 pm:

    ===You couldn’t write this as a novel because it would be too unbelievable.===

    Agreed. “Too contrived” is probably the feedback.

    ===…House Republican Leader Jim Durkin’s brother Tom presiding over a sentencing hearing in which the brother of Leader Durkin’s immediate predecessor testified about being molested by the defendant.===

    That is too unbelievable if you just stopped here.


    ===…to watch as his molester helped his brother scale the political heights. And imagine the crushing revulsion Tom Cross experienced when he eventually discovered that his political godfather was a monster. And then to get a request from his own brother’s molester for a kind letter to the judge?===

    You won’t get notes back, you won’t even get a phone call back.

    As an aside, Tom Cross first heard of his own brother being a victim years and decades later. This idea that there’s a huge “secret” thing out here in Kendall is feeding the “small town secrets” laziness that ignores why someone like J. Dennis Hastert can victimize children for as long as he did…

    … it was a secret, not an open secret.

    Within the two decades covered I’ve lived in Kendall County, me, I had heard nothing that resembled what J. Dennis Hastert admitted to, including being a serial child molester, and the genuine love and pride once felt for this man was based on the lie Hastert kept, not the open secret some think existed, but then can’t explain the last decades.

  5. - mokenavince - Wednesday, Apr 27, 16 @ 1:41 pm:

    Hastert got a sentence he deserved.

  6. - Ron Burgundy - Wednesday, Apr 27, 16 @ 1:42 pm:

    One of the worst parts for me to fathom is how awful it must be to finally be able to confront the person responsible for the most traumatic episode in your life, only to have them say they don’t remember. I do hope reporters have some decency and leave the family alone, but you’re right, there are always some who don’t.

  7. - Cubs in '16 - Wednesday, Apr 27, 16 @ 1:43 pm:

    ===And, unfortunately, despite Cross’ request for privacy, I doubt that reporters will let this one go anytime soon.===

    I’m sure Scott Cross was aware of this before coming forward which makes his courage all the more impressive. If his testimony gives other victims of sexual abuse the courage to come forward so healing can begin, his private suffering will have provided some good amidst all of this evil.

  8. - Stones - Wednesday, Apr 27, 16 @ 1:44 pm:

    The truth is truly stranger than fiction. I was also extremely impressed with the courage of Mr. Cross today.

  9. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Apr 27, 16 @ 1:45 pm:

    Scott Cross is a hero.

    He’ll get nothing out of this except the attention I imagine he’s been fearing all of his life. What bravery, after all this time, at this time in your life, to confront your demon.

    I grew up with a couple of kids who revealed decades later, they had been abused by the pillar-of-the-community priest.

    These were tough dudes. Their parents were tough people. But my boys were scared to reveal the truth until after their folks died, and then, in an almost off-hand way. They didn’t do anything about it.

    Scott Cross stood up in federal court and revealed the truth about the pillar of his community, the former House Speaker, for all the world to see.

    Such bravery. Such a beacon for those that remain silent.

  10. - Jack Stephens - Wednesday, Apr 27, 16 @ 1:46 pm:

    Is he a molester or has he had sex with other men since? I would be careful about using that word as no one knows.

  11. - AlabamaShake - Wednesday, Apr 27, 16 @ 1:49 pm:

    **Is he a molester or has he had sex with other men since? I would be careful about using that word as no one knows.**

    Huh? He admitted to molesting at least one kid. And claimed he “didn’t remember” on others.

    He’s a molester.

  12. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Apr 27, 16 @ 1:51 pm:

    What’s next?
    The wife of an impeached public official getting elected to the same office? A president elected thanks to 537 contested votes in a state governed by his brother?

    350 million people, yet we end up with the exact same people and families in office. No soap opera could survive this level of fictional incestuousness without complete total public revoltion.

    Bring on the celebrities, at least they are entertaining.

  13. - Amalia - Wednesday, Apr 27, 16 @ 1:51 pm:

    @ Jack Stephens, Hastert molested children. He has admitted that in open court. if he had sex with men it makes not one bit of difference. the people who are victims were children.

  14. - Mason born - Wednesday, Apr 27, 16 @ 1:51 pm:

    I pray Scott Cross finds peace. Hasterts lucky all Tom Cross did was not respond. I can’t believe he had the gall to ask for a recomendation.

    The man truly is a piece of excrement.

  15. - Honeybear - Wednesday, Apr 27, 16 @ 1:55 pm:

    That is so horrific that I’m having trouble wrapping my mind around it. Truly truly horrific.

  16. - Earnest - Wednesday, Apr 27, 16 @ 2:01 pm:

    A great thing of Scott Cross to come forward. The more survivors of abuse who tell their stories, the more they’ll pave the way for young victims to speak up and not endure as many years of bearing the secret.

  17. - illini - Wednesday, Apr 27, 16 @ 2:05 pm:

    Willy - very appropriate comment. This was indeed the most stunning aspect of the proceedings this morning. Yet the most telling was the half apology, if you can even call it that, and it was not even an admission of his actions, that stunned me equally as much.

  18. - hisgirlfriday - Wednesday, Apr 27, 16 @ 2:06 pm:

    Scott was quoted in the politico write up as saying there are nine victims not the five previously reported.

    Also am wondering who will be the first legislator to call for changing the statute of limitations on child molestation in light of this grotesque saga.

  19. - LizPhairTax - Wednesday, Apr 27, 16 @ 2:06 pm:

    That 1999 picture. Wow.

    Major respect to Scott Cross.

  20. - Jack Stephens - Wednesday, Apr 27, 16 @ 2:06 pm:

    Mr. Hastert has not referred to himself as a molester. The Judge did. Others in court have.

    Still….no sadness for what he did. And I’m tired of his parties hypocrisy too. Isnt it Ted “Basketball Rings” Cruz who wants some kind of police state for the bathrooms?

  21. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Apr 27, 16 @ 2:08 pm:

    ===Mr. Hastert has not referred to himself as a molester===

    He specifically admitted to molesting one of his victims.

    So, either wake up or leave.

  22. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Apr 27, 16 @ 2:15 pm:

    ===Yet the most telling was the half apology, if you can even call it that, and it was not even an admission of his actions, that stunned me equally as much.===

    The fact that Judge Durkin made J. Dennis Hastert say “yes” to each victim’s claim of child molestation and Judge Durkin referencing and using “serial” to make clear a continued behavior, stunning. Thank you for your kind description of my comment.

    Scott Cross is a hero. What US Attorney Fardon tried to make clear was we all, everyone, need to make victims comfortable to come forward and that we hear them.

    Taking away the shaming power and the fear of who will believe victims is something we all can strive to do, or continue to do, to help these types of tragedies to end.

    The entire Cross family are strong examples here in surrounding and supporting each other and being there in support of Scott.

  23. - Rahm's Parking Meter - Wednesday, Apr 27, 16 @ 2:17 pm:

    A sad and disgusting story.
    Scott Cross is a hero. He did the right thing.
    I feel horrible for the Cross family.
    My only wish is that J. Dennis Hastert could pay more for what he did.

  24. - @MisterJayEm - Wednesday, Apr 27, 16 @ 2:20 pm:

    I just keep thinking about the years-long, psychic wedge that Dennis Hastert abominable manipulations drove between those two brothers.

    – MrJM

  25. - carbaby - Wednesday, Apr 27, 16 @ 2:23 pm:

    It may be shocking that Hastert had the nerve to ask Cross for a Hail Mary letter, but I think he reached out because he felt Tom somehow “owed” him and that had he not taken him under his wing, Tom would not be where he is today. And that perhaps his taking him under his wing was somehow supposed to make up for his horrific acts. These are the acts of a selfish person.
    If I were Tom Cross, I would make a note of every single person who submitted letters of recommendation on behalf of Hastert and cross them off my list of allies. To me that speaks to every essence of one’s character- to write a letter on behalf of someone who committed horrific acts but want people to discount the acts because of who they are. It would be different if Hastert actually atoned for his acts but he has not demonstrated any accountability.
    I pray for peace for the entire Cross family as well as all the families this has touched.

  26. - Archiesmom - Wednesday, Apr 27, 16 @ 2:39 pm:

    With respect to the letters that were submitted to the judge supporting Hastert, it is my understanding that the request was made before the full circumstances of the case were known. A number of people who did submit them withdrew them at a later date.

    And I hope Scott Cross achieves some peace of mind through his courageous actions. That was a terrible burden to carry for so long a time.

  27. - Amalia - Wednesday, Apr 27, 16 @ 2:44 pm:

    @ Vanilla Man, child molestation and electoral politics — you are referring to Bush and Clinton family members—-are two very different things. conflating them is ridiculous.

  28. - Just Sayin' - Wednesday, Apr 27, 16 @ 2:45 pm:

    I just don’t understand how anyone could write a letter of support for him. Sentencing wasn’t about the good things he did or how nice of a person he was as they knew him, but rather sentencing was about his illegalities relating to the hush money for the molestation. That would be akin to writing a letter of support for a serial killer saying how nice the guy was outside of killing people. Seems like the judge rightly disregarded the letters.

  29. - Jack Stephens - Wednesday, Apr 27, 16 @ 2:49 pm:

    Guess I’ll leave. Not a big deal. Good luck!

  30. - girlawyer - Wednesday, Apr 27, 16 @ 2:54 pm:

    his girl friday, the statute of limitations for sex crimes against children has been changed. It now extends to the child victim’s 38th birthday; and there is none at all in certain (rare) situations. The problem is, you cannot “revive” a case by amending the law after the case has “expired”. These cases expired under the old “3 years” law many years before the law was changed. One can only hope that Mr. Cross’ bravery will inspire some to come forward at a time when criminal action can be taken.

  31. - Harry - Wednesday, Apr 27, 16 @ 2:54 pm:

    So, Hastert didn’t even remember molesting young Cross? How many dozens of others there must have been!

    And some people say we are too cynical about our politicians, as a class. Politicians and their hangers-on seem to say that a lot, as if it’s somehow our fault for doubting them.

    And no, Hastert didn’t get anywhere close to what he deserves, but if there is a just God, he eventually will.

  32. - Jimmy CrackCorn - Wednesday, Apr 27, 16 @ 2:55 pm:

    Someone in DC or Illinois facilitated the hush-money payments and either a.) didn’t ask why, or b.)knew why and chose to protect a child molester for political aspirations. Political power over the well-being and justice owed to young boys.

    Dennis Hastert is despicable, but there were likely others that kept this quiet. If they are out there, I hope they suffer as much guilt and shame as those boys had to.

  33. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Apr 27, 16 @ 2:57 pm:

    ==Mr. Hastert has not referred to himself as a molester. The Judge did.==

    Some murderers don’t call themselves murderers, either. But they are.

  34. - Stu - Wednesday, Apr 27, 16 @ 3:02 pm:

    Cross = “Individual D”

    “Individual A” was involved in the exchange of money

  35. - crazybleedingheart - Wednesday, Apr 27, 16 @ 3:07 pm:

    So bizarre you assume Ty Fahner must not have been able to see it coming when he wrote his Hastert support letter.

    Or maybe he’s just that deaf.

  36. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Apr 27, 16 @ 3:10 pm:

    ===Guess I’ll leave===


  37. - Del Clinkton - Wednesday, Apr 27, 16 @ 3:15 pm:

    Its unfortunate that he was not sent off to prison immediately. They have to wait for a bed in Federal prison to open up.

  38. - Wensicia - Wednesday, Apr 27, 16 @ 3:23 pm:

    Cross was incredible, helped with the support of his family. I hope his privacy going forward will be respected.

    As for Hastert, perhaps his memorie is selective or he molested so many he can’t remember individual inccdents. To monsters like him, one victim is the same as another. The creepy lazyboy chair in front of the showers is sickening.

  39. - David Keljin - Wednesday, Apr 27, 16 @ 3:32 pm:

    Thanx Rich. Good work with Jack Stephens.

    Best news blog on the web!

  40. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Apr 27, 16 @ 3:35 pm:

    No one is irredeemable, but justly, should he find redemption, it will be granted solely by the One who is capable.

  41. - Boone's is Back - Wednesday, Apr 27, 16 @ 3:41 pm:

    WOW. Truly unbelievable and truly awful.

  42. - Soccermom - Wednesday, Apr 27, 16 @ 3:50 pm:

    This is all so horrifying. But the worst is that Hastert didn’t even remember abusing Scott Cross. Dear lord, how many were there? And did this behavior really stop when he stopped coaching?

  43. - Just Me - Wednesday, Apr 27, 16 @ 4:34 pm:

    I was literally sick to my stomach in my office today. I remember meeting Scott Cross at a House Republican fundraiser almost a decade ago where Dennis Hastert was the “celebrity” guest everyone got their picture with. I honestly cannot fathom what Mr. Cross has gone through all these years.

    I don’t pray often, but I prayed for him this afternoon.

  44. - Jake From Elwood - Wednesday, Apr 27, 16 @ 5:07 pm:

    I have shook hands and spoke with Hastert a few times over the years at political events. I don’t think there are any photos.

    I am sickened that I shook the hand and sought an audience with someone this morally repulsive. Down come the Hastert signs all over Kendall County.

  45. - Mama - Wednesday, Apr 27, 16 @ 5:18 pm:

    Rich, did they say there were 9 victims - all from his days as a coach?

  46. - Mama - Wednesday, Apr 27, 16 @ 5:21 pm:

    Think how all the people who voted for this man all those years feel right now. This proves we really don’t know who we are voting for in the elections.

  47. - Mama - Wednesday, Apr 27, 16 @ 5:25 pm:

    If he had not agreed to pay one of his victims hush money, we would have never known what this monster did. I bet he still thinks he did nothing wrong.

  48. - Wensicia - Wednesday, Apr 27, 16 @ 6:06 pm:

    ==I bet he still thinks he did nothing wrong.==

    He knew he was wrong and was willing to spend $3.5 million and lie to the feds to cover his sins. Even more reason to admire the victims, and their relatives, who came forward to speak out today against him.

  49. - Leave a Light on George - Wednesday, Apr 27, 16 @ 6:09 pm:

    I’m sorry I’m so late to this conversation because I missed my chance to address Jack Stephens and call him the piece of excrement that he is.

  50. - Angry Chicagoan - Wednesday, Apr 27, 16 @ 6:47 pm:

    We need to revisit rules and laws on statutes of limitations.

  51. - Levois - Wednesday, Apr 27, 16 @ 8:34 pm:

    What a sad and disturbing case. An awful downfall for a former Speaker of the House. A lot of victims and a lot of coincidences.

  52. - Liandro - Wednesday, Apr 27, 16 @ 9:43 pm:

    Oh my God. I have been tuned out of all this stuff recently until I read this…wow. That’s just sickening.

  53. - Ray Batman - Thursday, Apr 28, 16 @ 9:15 am:

    Rich, Is there a way to access the names of the persons that did submit letters of support for Hastert?

  54. - Dorron Katzin - Thursday, Apr 28, 16 @ 10:47 am:

    Two articles about Hastert which are worth reading

    Hastert and Congress: ‘How Did We Miss It?’

    In Denny Hastert’s Hometown, from Hero to ‘He Who Shall Not Be Named’

  55. - Dorron Katzin - Thursday, Apr 28, 16 @ 11:16 am:

    To Ray Batman

    “The defense has said it received 60 letters in all and had hoped to keep them sealed from public view, but U.S. District Judge Thomas M. Durkin, who will sentence Hastert on Wednesday, warned he wouldn’t consider any letters not made public.

    “Nearly 20 writers did not want their letters made public or had requested their letters be ‘withdrawn’ from consideration, Hastert’s lawyers wrote in a court filing Friday.

    “The 41 letters made public were mostly written in late February and early March — before prosecutors detailed sex abuse allegations against Hastert from decades ago.”

    Link to full text of article from Chicago Tribune:

    PDF file containing all the publicly released letters:

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