CHICAGO (AP) — A federal judge has approved prosecutors' request to keep some evidence against former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert secret, a move that could mean details of the Illinois Republican's alleged misconduct may never become public.
U.S. District Judge Thomas Durkin granted the motion for a protective order Monday.
The order says any discovery the U.S. Attorney's Office provides Hastert's attorneys may not be disclosed to anyone not involved in the case, even after the proceedings end.
Prosecutors argued in their motion that disclosing the information "could adversely affect law enforcement interests and the privacy interests of third parties." They said Hastert's defense attorneys agreed with the request.
Hastert, a former teacher and wrestling coach, is accused of agreeing to pay $3.5 million to someone described in a May 28 indictment only as "Individual A" to keep past misconduct secret.
The indictment doesn't describe the alleged misconduct. It says "Individual A" has been a resident of Yorkville — the town about 60 miles outside Chicago where Hastert taught and coached — and has known Hastert for "most of Individual A's life." It also says Hastert paid Individual A a total of $1.7 million.
A person familiar with the allegations told The Associated Press that the payments were intended to conceal claims of sexual misconduct from decades ago. The person spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.
Hastert, who is free on a $4,500 unsecured bond, has pleaded not guilty to charges of violating banking laws and lying to the FBI. Neither he nor his attorneys have commented on the case.
Durkin has scheduled a hearing for Thursday morning, though Hastert is not required to attend.