Abuse victim testified after Hastert overture to brother
CHICAGO (AP) -- The sex abuse victim who testified against Dennis Hastert at the former U.S. House speaker's sentencing hearing said Wednesday that he ultimately decided to do so publicly after Hastert reached out to his brother for a letter of support.
Scott Cross, a 53-year-old businessman who lives in the Chicago suburbs, was on the Yorkville High School wrestling team that Hastert coached in the 1970s and said in court that Hastert fondled him on a locker room table after practice.
The Associated Press normally does not name sexual abuse victims, but Scott Cross gave the AP permission to publish his name after the hearing. In court records, he was referred to only as "Individual D."
Hastert was sentenced to 15 months in prison after pleading guilty to violating a banking law as he sought to pay another individual $3.5 million to keep secret that he also had been sexually abused. Hastert also faces sex offender treatment, two years of supervised release after prison and a $250,000 fine that'll go to a crime victims fund.
Cross' brother is former Illinois House Republican leader Tom Cross, a one-time political ally of Hastert's.
Scott Cross told the AP he had been speaking to federal prosecutors about possibly testifying at Hastert's sentencing hearing, but didn't make a final decision until Hastert approached his brother to write a letter of support asking the judge for leniency.
Cross said Hastert first called his brother directly with the request. When he did not respond, Hastert's legal team followed up with another request.
"I hadn't made a decision. That's what compelled me to come forward," Scott Cross said. "It was epic" in the decision, he said.
Tom Cross released a statement Wednesday saying the family is "very proud of Scott for having the courage to relive this very painful part of his life in order to ensure that justice" was done. He added that the family hopes the testimony will encourage other victims of abuse to speak out.
Scott Cross said he had no comment on Hastert's sentence, saying, "it's a sad story all around."
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