Wheaton College, the prominent Evangelical alma mater of former Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert said Sunday that it had removed his name from a center named after him since his scandalous indictment for illegally transferring funds to dodge the IRS and lying to the FBI.
Reports surfaced last week alleging that Hastert had sexually molested a male victim to whom he recently paid hush money in violation of federal banking laws, according to a federal law enforcement official briefed on the case.
The 73-year-old Wheaton graduate was indicted Thursday by a federal grand jury that charged that he had violated banking laws in a bid to pay $3.5 million to someone to cover up "past misconduct."
Hastert, who has worked as a lobbyist in Washington since he retired from Congress in 2007 reportedly attempted to hide more than $950,000 in withdrawals, according to the indictment which did not highlight the specific details of his "prior misconduct" according to the Washington Post.
The cash exchanges, according to Reuters and various national media, had to do with sexual contact decades ago with a male former student of Hastert's when he was a high school coach and teacher in Yorkville, Illinois. Each count of the two-count indictment carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Last Thursday, Wheaton said in a statement that it was "saddened" to learn of the allegations against Hastert. On Friday the school revealed in an email that he had resigned from the Board of Advisors of the then J. Dennis Hastert Center for Economics, Government, and Public Policy.
"Wheaton College has received and accepted the resignation of Wheaton alumnus and former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives J. Dennis Hastert from the Board of Advisors of its J. Dennis Hastert Center for Economics, Government, and Public Policy," said the statement.
By Sunday, in a follow-up statement the school said it had removed his name from the center.
"It is with sadness and shock that the Wheaton College community learned of the indictment by the U.S. Department of Justice of alumnus and former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives J. Dennis Hastert, and of his resignation from the Board of Advisors of the J. Dennis Hastert Center for Economics, Government, and Public Policy at Wheaton College," began the statement.
"In light of the charges and allegations that have emerged, the College has re-designated the Center as the Wheaton College Center for Economics, Government, and Public Policy at this time," it noted.
"Wheaton College serves Jesus Christ and advances His Kingdom through excellence in liberal arts and graduate programs that educate the whole person to build the church and benefit society worldwide. The College has not been implicated in or associated with any of the allegations in this matter," it continued before noting that the school community will be praying for Hastert and everyone involved in the situation.
"We commit ourselves to pray for all involved, including Speaker Hastert, his family, and those who may have been harmed by any inappropriate behavior, and to continue the work and mission of the Wheaton College Center for Economics, Government, and Public Policy," said the statement.
Hastert is expected to appear in a Chicago, Illinois court on Thursday to answer to the charges against him according to Reuters.