End the Statute of Limitations on Sex Crimes Against Children

Former Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert, cut a pitiful figure this week as he left a federal prison in Minnesota and his wheelchair stuck on a bump in the sidewalk. His wife, fumbling at his side trying to manage his aluminum walker and other items wasn’t immediately able to help him over the hurdle. The just released prisoner was momentarily stuck. Pathetic for a man who was once second in line to the presidency of the United States.

I didn’t feel sorry for him one bit. Hastert is one of the worst kind of criminals in my book. He robbed children of their innocence and damaged their futures forever.

When Hastert was sentenced to 15 months in prison last April the judge called him “a serial child molester” and noted that he had sexually abused at least four members of the wrestling team at Yorkville High School in suburban Chicago from 1965 to 1981. I’m betting there were more young boys who fell victim to coach Hastert’s lust. Preferential serial child molesters rarely stop at four.

Hastert Was a Popular Wrestling Coach Before Politics – Yearbook Photo

But Hastert was not convicted of sexually abusing children because the statute of limitations in Illinois had long since run out.  In that state a victim has 20 years from their 18th birthday to report a sex crime and Hastert’s popular position in the community back in the day had been enough to keep all his victims quiet – for decades.

No, it wasn’t sex with minors that brought down the man whose affable personality helped him hold on to the Speaker of the House position longer than any other Republican. It was his own mysterious bank transactions that alerted the FBI. When agents questioned Hastert he lied about the reason for his systematic withdrawals of just under $10,000. He said he didn’t trust banks. But the FBI’s investigation turned up the real reason Hastert had drained his accounts of more than $950,000. Beginning in 2010, Hastert had begun to pay hush money to one of his victims.

Ultimately, all the former politician could be charged with was violating banking regulations. Once the explosive indictment against him was made public Hastert’s wretched secrets began to spill out in shameful detail.

Hastert with Stephen Reinboldt, Who Later Committed Suicide – Yearbook Photo

Stephen Reinboldt, one of the victims, later died of AIDS according to his sister. Jolene Burdge said her brother’s life path deteriorated after the sexual contact with his trusted coach. The unidentified victim to whom Hastert had been paying money filed a lawsuit asking for the remainder of the $3.5 million Hastert had promised him. And victim Scott Cross decided to go public after 37 years of keeping his painful secret.

On CNN this week Cross was asked to enlighten people about why so many victims wait so long to report sexual abuse or never report it at all.

“The Hasterts of the world have so much trust and respect over you that you really have a hard time processing and understanding it,” Cross said.

“You think about the shame, guilt, embarrassment, humiliation … I was devastated (and) felt very alone,” he said. Cross, 54, added that had never told his parents or his three brothers about the abuse. Ironically, one of his brothers had been a political protégé of Hastert’s and went on to serve as the Illinois republican house leader. Needless to say the entire Cross family was shocked at Scott’s late-in-life revelation.

While Hastert was serving 13 months of his 15 month sentence Cross was busy working with the Illinois attorney general to get the state to abolish the statute of limitations on sex crimes against children. He was successful. And Governor Bruce Rauner is expected to sign the unanimously passed legislation soon.

What a fitting turn of events! The actions of Dennis Hastert, the man who wielded so much influence over the state of Illinois and then the United States Congress, were both his own undoing and the catalyst that finally erased the impediment to justice sex abuse victims have endured for so long. At least in Illinois anyway.

Only a handful of states have no statute of limitations on felony sex abuse. Laws in various other states vary widely but many use the “age 18 plus 20 years” formula.

That any state continues to embrace a statute of limitation on reporting child sexual abuse is incomprehensible.  Advances in psychology tell us it is normal for vulnerable children to heed the warning of their abusers to “keep the secret” for years and even decades. And for boys it has been proven to be especially difficult to admit what happened to them. It goes to their very sense of developing manhood.

Our system is based on the premise of justice for all. And that includes victims who, for whatever reason, cannot confront or talk about what happened to them until later in life. It is way past time to do away with these antiquated statute of limitation laws.




  1. Diane Dimond on July 24, 2017 at 2:47 pm

    ABQ Journal Reader Patti Egan writes:


    I needed to write you and express my appreciation for your beautifully written article in the Albuquerque journal concerning SOL.
    Although I am not from Illinois but rather New York State, it is this type of article we need to have written to help abolish SOL in N.Y. NY state has some of the most antiquated SOL in these United States.

    So in thanking you, I also encourage you to investigate NY’s issues and also write about it. Your voice on this matter is dead on and it’s obvious you understand all the underlying issues.
    As an abuse/incest survivor and advocate, I can put you in touch with those people who can fill you in on any issues in which you may have questions or need guidance.

    In appreciation,

    Patti Egan

  2. Diane Dimond on July 24, 2017 at 4:12 pm

    Facebook Friend Kay Wilson writes:

    Just another Republican sexual predator….

    • Diane Dimond on July 24, 2017 at 4:14 pm

      DD replies:

      Like there have been no DEMOCRATIC sexual predators? Come on, Kay! Clinton, Gary Hart, Anthony Weiner, Hollywood producers ….I could go on and on.

    • Diane Dimond on July 24, 2017 at 4:15 pm

      Facebook Friend Carolyn O’Connor replies:

      It is not a political party. Nothing happened to Anthony Weiner.

    • Diane Dimond on July 24, 2017 at 4:32 pm

      Facebook Friend Jackie Morin replies to Kay Wilson:

      This is the stupidest argument I have seen in a long time. Talking about predators & jumping right into which party has the worst offenders. WHO CARES! If the man is a criminal & a predator, that”s all that need be discussed. Geezus…..how desperate are you to make a partisan point?

  3. Diane Dimond on July 24, 2017 at 4:15 pm

    Facebook Friend Chris Wilkinson writes:

    Exactly .. Finally someone remembering the victims

  4. Diane Dimond on July 24, 2017 at 4:16 pm

    Facebook Friend Patrice Ekland writes:

    Who’s the pansy pushing his wheelchair? Does he have money to pay them? Then he has money to pay victims. Sick MF

    • Diane Dimond on July 24, 2017 at 4:16 pm

      DD replies:

      That’s Hastert’s wife in the top photo.

  5. Diane Dimond on July 24, 2017 at 4:18 pm

    Facebook Friend Jeff Davis writes:

    I feel sorry for the man who has to push him in that thing.

  6. Diane Dimond on July 24, 2017 at 4:18 pm

    Facebook Friend Jeannette Albarran writes:

    He’s disgusting.

  7. Diane Dimond on July 24, 2017 at 4:18 pm

    Facebook Friend Alan Fountain writes:

    Very well said. That pathology is the root and branch to most Cartel crimes and adversity in our world. It is core of sex trafficking, religious racketeering, drug addictions, etc. Speaker of the House is pretty high up to be standing guard for other powerful predators. Thank you Diane Dimond for not hesitating to challenge authority on this topic. Brava!

  8. Diane Dimond on July 24, 2017 at 4:23 pm

    Facebook Friend Madeline Michele Hovey writes:

    Gosh, can anything ever just be posted without bringing a fight between the Republicans and the Democrats I’m just not understanding why this guy didn’t get something like Sandusky I never understand the justice system but for once can we just forget about Republicans and Democrats it just gets old and I am not even going to go and start naming off Republicans that are sexual predators but I sure see that we did the Democrats

    • Diane Dimond on July 24, 2017 at 4:24 pm

      DD replies to Madeline Michele Hovey:

      I am SO with you Madeline! This column was about the statute of limitations that protects child molesters who were skilled enough to scare their victims into silence. NOT about Republicans or Democrats. I am with you. So weary of EVERYTHING being made into a political tit-for-tat. Weary and sick of the small mindedness behind it.

  9. Diane Dimond on July 24, 2017 at 4:27 pm

    Reader Mike Hendricks writes:

    I’m sure you are aware of the Teen Vogue backlash across the nation. I commend and agree the sex abuse laws should be changed, but sexual abuse of children come in many forms. An activist gay editor of a teen magazine attempts to legitimize and indoctrinate teens 11 to 17 in the proper way to perform and enjoy anal sex. A child that young cannot look at a Playboy magazine in a convenience store or buy it legally AND they are wrapped in plastic just to make sure. Parents have only a limited number of bullets in their gun to educate and protect their children from men like Hastert, Teen Vogue just made their job harder. Children do not need to know how to perform anal sex, they need to know how to prevent it.

  10. Diane Dimond on July 26, 2017 at 10:38 am

    Facebook Friend Wilma Jean Greene writes:

    What would Jesus say!

  11. Diane Dimond on July 26, 2017 at 10:38 am

    Facebook Friend Abbe Buck writes:

    It still stuns me, Diane.

  12. Diane Dimond on July 26, 2017 at 10:38 am

    Facebook Friend Rich Hydell writes:

    The fact he’s sitting in a wheelchair does not mean he’s confined to one .My guess is he’s walking around his house just fine .

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