Revealed: Victim’s sister tried to expose Dennis Hastert as a sex abuser for decades— but couldn’t prove it
The sister of Dennis Hastert’s alleged sex abuse victim said she could not believe when the Republican lawmaker showed up at his victim’s funeral.
Steve Reinboldt’s sister, Jolene, said her brother had confided to her that Hastert had sexually abused him for four years in the late 1960s – and she has tried to expose the former lawmaker since her brother died of AIDS in 1995, reported ABC News.
“After (Hastert) had gone through the line I followed him out into the parking lot of the funeral home,” Jolene said. “I said, ‘I want to know why you did what you did to my brother,’ and he just stood there and stared at me. He didn’t say, ‘What are you talking about?’ you know, [or], ‘What? I don’t know what you’re talking about.’ He just stood there and stared at me.”
“Then I just continued to say, ‘I want you to know your secret didn’t die in there with my brother, and I want you to remember that I’m out here and that I know,’ and again, he just stood there and he did not say a word,” she said.
Jolene said she had written to news organizations and advocacy groups after another Republican congressman, Rep. Mark Foley, was caught sending sexually explicit messages to an underage male page.
ABC News reported that Jolene’s claims could not be corroborated at the time and Hastert denied the allegation.
Jolene said Hastert victimized her brother, who told her about the abuse in 1979 – about eight years after it ended when he moved away for college.
“(Hastert) took (Steve’s) belief in himself and his kind of right to be a normal person,” Jolene said. “Here was the mentor, the man who was, you know, basically his friend and stepped into that parental role, who was the one who was abusing him. He damaged Steve, I think, more than any of us will ever know.”
Jolene said she watched helplessly as Hastert rose to the third-highest elected office in the nation as the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.
“I would just watch for a while and then I would just have to get up and leave the room and just, you know, either cry or scream,” Jolene said. “I can’t believe the audacity of that man and how he thinks he will get away with it.”
She eventually decided to let it go, and she put away some of Steve’s personal items into storage before Christmas last year.
“I just remember sitting on the floor, packing it all up and just saying, ‘Steve, I did the best I could, and I know you’re okay,’” Jolene said.
The FBI contacted her two weeks ago to discuss Hastert, who was indicted on bank fraud charges related to large payments to someone to cover up “prior misconduct.”
Jolene said she does not know who that person is and never asked for any money herself, but she believes the individual knew about her brother’s sexual abuse in the late 1960s – when Steve served as the equipment manager for the wrestling team coached by Hastert.
“I feel vindicated and that Steve’s vindicated, that Mr. Hastert can’t pull this wool over everybody’s eyes,” she said. “Finally the truth comes out.”
Watch this video report posted online by ABC News: