clock menu more-arrow no yes

The Daily Show: Dennis Hastert could be charged for parking tickets — but not child abuse

A decade ago, a man who allegedly molested at least four children as a high school wrestling coach was second in line to become president.

"A man who for six years was just one pretzel and one faulty pacemaker removed from an Oval Office position is an alleged child molester," The Daily Show's Trevor Noah said on April 13. "I don't understand why this isn't everywhere. This is shocking."

Noah was referring to Dennis Hastert, the longest-serving Republican speaker of the House. Earlier this month, prosecutors accused Hastert of paying hush money to at least one individual he had molested while he was a high school wrestling coach decades ago in Illinois. And the man was only one of at least four victims, according to prosecutors.

But when Hastert was sentenced on Wednesday to 15 months in prison, it was not for child abuse — but for financial misconduct involving the hush money. That's because the statute of limitations on child abuse had expired. "Under Illinois state law," Noah said, "he could be charged for abuse only if his students had reported it within three years."

Noah pointed out that there are several less severe crimes Hastert could have been prosecuted for should he have committed them decades ago:

  • "If Dennis Hastert had double parked while he was molesting a kid, he could still be penalized for double parking to this day."
  • "Or if he was busy molesting students, and he was so busy doing it he forgot to pay off his federal student loans, he could still be penalized for that today."
  • "Or even if Dennis Hastert had tried to fraudulently write off the La-Z-Boy that he put in the locker room as a business expense, he could still get prosecuted for tax fraud today."

"But none of this for the abuse," Noah lamented. So Hastert has been charged and sentenced, instead, for evading financial reporting requirements.


Watch: Why The Daily Show had to change

Sign up for the newsletter The Weeds

Understand how policy impacts people. Delivered Fridays.