A Chicago judge sentenced Dennis Hastert Wednesday in a "hush-money" case, calling the former House speaker a "serial child molester," the AP reports. US District Judge Thomas Durkin said his sentence for Hastert—who received 15 months in prison, as well as two years of supervised release and a mandate to enter a sex offender treatment program—would have been harsher if it weren't for the 74-year-old's age and health, the Chicago Tribune reports. "This is not meant to be a death sentence," Durkin noted. It was the first time Hastert had publicly admitted he sexually abused athletes while he was a wrestling coach at Illinois' Yorkville High School decades ago. Hastert was "wheeled into court by attendants," per ABC News, and he approached the judge in a walker to say he was "deeply ashamed." "I know I am here because I mistreated some of my athletes that I coached," he said. "I want to apologize to the boys I mistreated. I was wrong and I accept that." When Durkin asked if he had sexually abused them, Hastert replied, "Yes."
One of Hastert's accusers, previously IDed in documents as "Individual D," was in court to confront him. Scott Cross told the court he was 17 when Hastert sexually abused him during a massage and that the abuse became "his darkest secret as [Hastert] became more powerful." He added he wasn't even sure he could take the stand until he got there and that he decided to testify after Hastert's defense team approached his brother, an Illinois politician, for a letter of support. Per the New York Daily News, the sister of Steven Reinboldt, another of Hastert's accusers (Reinboldt died in 1995), also addressed Hastert in court, saying, "Don't be a coward … tell the truth," adding, per NBC News: "I always wonder if you're sorry for what you did or if you're sorry you got caught." Hastert had been accused of molesting four boys between the ages of 14 and 17 while at Yorkville, but the statute of limitations has expired. (Another accuser wants the rest of his hush money.)