National Wrestling Hall of Fame revokes awards for ex-House Speaker Hastert
The National Wrestling Hall of Fame on Monday revoked all awards bestowed upon former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert after he admitted in court to sexually abusing students years ago when he was a high school wrestling coach.
The organization’s board of governors unanimously voted for the revocation after an ethics committee found Hastert’s actions to be “detrimental to the ideals and objectives” of the Wrestling Hall of Fame, according to a statement on its website.
Lee Roy Smith, the body’s executive director, said in the statement the board wanted to wait until Hastert’s criminal case was over before making a decision.
Hastert, 74, once one of the most powerful U.S. conservative politicians, was sentenced on Wednesday to 15 months in federal prison for a financial crime related to sexual abuse of high school wrestlers he coached decades ago.
Hastert pleaded guilty last October to the crime of structuring, which involves withdrawing a large sum of money in small increments to avoid detection. While he was not charged with sex abuse because of the statute of limitations, he admitted to the judge at his sentencing hearing that he had sexually abused teenagers.
The abuse occurred while Hastert was a teacher and wrestling coach in his hometown of Yorkville in the 1960s and 1970s. He later reached a secret agreement with one of the victims to pay him $3.5 million in compensation for pain and suffering.
The Yorkville High School wrestlers were state champions during his tenure as coach.
The Stillwater, Oklahoma-based Hall of Fame said it revoked its Order of Merit and Outstanding American awards given to Hastert, along with separate awards bestowed by the Illinois Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame and the Dan Gable Museum in Waterloo, Iowa.
(Reporting by Justin Madden in Chicago; Editing by Fiona Ortiz and Matthew Lewis)