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Why didn’t Hastert’s secret come out sooner?

Thursday, Apr 28, 2016

* Jolene Burdge’s brother had confided to her that Dennis Hastert had molested him, and she says she confronted Hastert with the information after her brother’s wake in 1995. She then attempted to tell the public about Hastert’s dark secret in 2006. Roll Call tells us what happened

Burdge said the Foley scandal convinced her that she had to come forward. She wrote letters to an advocacy group for victims of priest sex abuse, a prominent defense attorney who had tried several sex abuse cases, ABC News and Oprah Winfrey’s media company. She told all of them that she knew why Hastert hadn’t delved more deeply into complaints about Foley.

Only, Burdge was afraid to allow the news organizations to use her name, and she did not want to take on someone of Hastert’s caliber without support. “I didn’t know what could happen to me,” she said. “I didn’t know if I had any rights.”

Unable to quote her by name, the news organizations balked. Asked why ABC did not air Burdge’s claim at the time, spokeswoman Caragh Fisher referred to a story the network published in June, saying it could not corroborate Burdge’s story and that Hastert denied her claim. The Associated Press also reported in June that it had contacted Burdge after receiving a tip, but Burdge would not go on the record. A spokeswoman for the Oprah Winfrey Network did not return a request for comment.

Defense attorney Jeff Anderson and victims advocate Barbara Blaine both said they believed Burdge’s story, but there was little they could do. Reinboldt was dead, and the Illinois statute of limitations had expired decades earlier.

“We didn’t have any way to expose him or do anything with it,” said Blaine, who leads SNAP, the Survivor Network of those Abused by Priests.

Anderson said at least one other person had come to him with similar allegations about Hastert.

“I thought the information given to us in the strictest of confidence was credible, was serious and deserved serious attention,” Anderson said. Still, “there was little or nothing that could be done given the information received.”

* From that AP statement

As a scandal involving former Rep. Mark Foley was unfolding in 2006, a person with no firsthand knowledge pointed The Associated Press to Jolene Burdge. On the phone and by email she repeatedly declined to talk about Dennis Hastert and provided no information that would have allowed AP to pursue a story, despite AP’s further efforts to do so at the time.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

23 Comments
  1. - morningstar - Thursday, Apr 28, 16 @ 11:07 am:

    All of which underscores the courage of victims who speak up…


  2. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Apr 28, 16 @ 11:12 am:

    To the Post,

    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 that 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. I never felt, looking back, there were winks or nods of an undercurrent of sickening behavior by J. Dennis Hastert that was known and many just looked the other way… collectively and knowingly by the community.

    The genuine love and pride once felt for J. Dennis Hastert was based on the lie Hastert kept, not the open secret some think existed, but then can’t explain the last decades.


  3. - wordslinger - Thursday, Apr 28, 16 @ 11:18 am:

    –All of which underscores the courage of victims who speak up…–

    Absolutely.

    It’s a bewildering phenomenon, but we’ve seen it again and again. Men of power preying on children, confident that the fear of their power will keep them silent.

    It makes you just want to throw out the rules of civilization and deliver Viking justice.


  4. - Huh? - Thursday, Apr 28, 16 @ 11:25 am:

    If it did come out, nobody would have believed that such a prominent, powerful and successful person could do such a heinous act.

    The people in power deny and are believed. While the injured are ridiculed for casting aspersions on the beloved person.


  5. - NoGifts - Thursday, Apr 28, 16 @ 11:31 am:

    Probably would have been better to go to a lawyer.


  6. - Belle - Thursday, Apr 28, 16 @ 11:35 am:

    It’s really sad. Many people have a difficult time telling the sexual assault story. They blame it on themselves, mixed messages, or that they misinterpret something that happened.

    It’s easier for the victim to try and forget but I doubt that they ever do forget.
    Add into the perpetrator being your teacher and it gets even more difficult and especially a much beloved teacher and coach.

    Then, add in that it involves guys and that is very complex. Plus, it occurred back in the 60’s and 70’s?

    It’s easier for the person to be victimized by one person instead of many people asking questions of a high school guy. I imagine that it makes you feel like you’re not as masculine as you want to believe during a time when you question so much about yourself. Hastert was very sly and creepy about all of this.

    I can understand that it was a secret but it’s really sad that he got away with it for so long.


  7. - Justa guy - Thursday, Apr 28, 16 @ 11:47 am:

    My son was molested at a very young age and shown a gun and threatened that he would kill us his parents if he ever told. The Perp who was a friend who betrayed us killed himself when put in the corner by another victim. This was about 5 years after the abuse happened to my son. My son then felt free to tell us. Now what do we do. Counseling and long years of being as understanding as we can has produced a dysfunctional and depressed adult. I am always there for him. He is like a emotionally retarded man. No amount of money will fix this. Permanent damage is the result. This man needs to read many of these stories as part of his punishment. :^(


  8. - Annonin' - Thursday, Apr 28, 16 @ 11:50 am:

    Does not sound like AP tried very hard.
    Meanwhile perhaps we need a QOTD about what light bulbs went on when the story finally broke?


  9. - 37B - Thursday, Apr 28, 16 @ 11:55 am:

    This brings queasily to mind the expression about “the leopard not changing its spots.” We now know what occurred when he was a small town wrestling coach. What then happened when Mr. Hastert went to Washington? Now that he’s convicted the floodgates hopefully will open regarding his behavior in DC as it relates to his positions of power there. What’s swirling on the internet is sordid, sickening and frightening. Much of it has been out there for a very long time. With Hastert’s admissions and convictions, the validity of those rumors resonate. Watch for the investigation that could have and should have happened decades ago.


  10. - illini - Thursday, Apr 28, 16 @ 12:00 pm:

    Second attempt -

    For those of you with a short memory - lets not forget that it was my Congressman John Shimkus that was instrumental in keeping the Foley scandal quiet for as long as he could. Protecting a pedophile congressman of his own party for fear that if others learned of this that the news would damage the brand.

    Wordslinger has it correct ===It’s a bewildering phenomenon, but we’ve seen it again and again. Men of power preying on children, confident that the fear of their power will keep them silent.===


  11. - Hedley Lamarr - Thursday, Apr 28, 16 @ 12:10 pm:

    Sounds like a House of Cards episode.


  12. - yinn - Thursday, Apr 28, 16 @ 12:17 pm:

    Hastert had a habit of ignoring victims as favors to friends, and this was pointed out in some circles. Perhaps other people in high places who lack basic compassion could get a bit more scrutiny in future.
    http://www.citybarbs.com/2006/10/09/hastert-looks-the-other-way-again/


  13. - Mama - Thursday, Apr 28, 16 @ 12:26 pm:

    I feel bad for the family, but not the Speaker.


  14. - VanillaMan - Thursday, Apr 28, 16 @ 12:33 pm:

    It goes back further, in my opinion.

    Why was Hastert allowed to bring a recliner into the boy’s locker room and be placed where he could watch them shower?

    Why was Hastert allowed to touch them pretending to give massages, deal with soreness or other medical issues?

    Why was Hastert allowed to have a boy sleep with him in the same room during trips?

    The reason these things should have never been allowed was to prevent any problems between a coach and a student. If a coach was accused of harming a student, nothing was in place to prevent any accusations.

    Yorkville Public Schools is a public government run institution that failed it’s citizens by allowing Hastert s behavior to go unquestioned. The District is charged with the education, care and welfare of the children required by law, to find in its schools. Allowing Hastert to do what he did without taking actions is a grievous failure.

    Anyone who overlooked the bizarre actions of this coach failed when he wasn’t questioned.


  15. - Will Caskey - Thursday, Apr 28, 16 @ 12:40 pm:

    Far thinner allegations have been run by the AP and ABC.


  16. - William Jennings Bryan - Thursday, Apr 28, 16 @ 12:42 pm:

    It would be unusual for someone to have done such acts and then stop.
    The press at the time must have conviently forgotten how to get the old yearbooks and start contacting people. Like they did in the last few months.


  17. - Precinct Captain - Thursday, Apr 28, 16 @ 1:01 pm:

    - Will Caskey - Thursday, Apr 28, 16 @ 12:40 pm:

    Any Brian Ross story


  18. - 47th Ward - Thursday, Apr 28, 16 @ 1:25 pm:

    ===It goes back further, in my opinion.===

    You’re not wrong VMan, but looking back at rural, small town 1960s America with 2016 eyes, you see a lot of things that weren’t right. At the time, any of the things you listed could easily be innocently explained away. The lazy boy chair was to prevent fights/bullying. Schools didn’t have athletic trainers back then, coaches sharing a room saved money, etc.

    It looks horrible now, and thankfully this stuff is talked about a lot in school training programs for faculty and staff. But back then?

    Hindsight is 20/20. The signs were there, but they were a lot hard to see back then.


  19. - wendy - Thursday, Apr 28, 16 @ 2:53 pm:

    Justa guy: I am so sorry. That is so hard.


  20. - Not It - Thursday, Apr 28, 16 @ 3:14 pm:

    The next time a Republican lawmaker pushes one of those silly “bathroom bills” we should all remind them that you are more likely to be molested by a Republican Congressman then a trans person in a public restroom.


  21. - The Valour Nail - Thursday, Apr 28, 16 @ 3:39 pm:

    BSA is the real deal. The big lesson here is one should not be cheap about skeletons in one’s closet especially if one does not want them to come out before one is himself/herself a skeleton. With the right advise there would not have been structuring to charge.


  22. - Anonymous - Thursday, Apr 28, 16 @ 4:10 pm:

    “If it did come out, nobody would have believed that such a prominent, powerful and successful person could do such a heinous act.

    The people in power deny and are believed. While the injured are ridiculed for casting aspersions on the beloved person.”

    Go back and read all the posts on this blog when this story first started to break. Many blaming the victim. Others wanting to know if income tax was paid on the money like that was an important question. Still others ralling about the Fed’s not fighting real crime.


  23. - Leave a Light on George - Thursday, Apr 28, 16 @ 4:15 pm:

    Sorry that was me at 4:10pm


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