James Garnett, who was superintendent of the Yorkville school district for five of the years Dennis Hastert taught there, said Friday there were no complaints of misconduct lodged against the now-indicted House speaker during that time.
Hastert, who represented the far western suburbs in Congress, was accused Thursday by federal prosecutors of agreeing to pay $3.5 million in hush money to a longtime acquaintance to cover up wrongdoing in Hastert's past and then lying to the FBI when asked about suspicious cash withdrawals from several banks.
Tribune Newspapers reported Friday that Hastert was paying the person to conceal sexual misconduct, according to two federal law enforcement officials.
One of those officials said the actions involved a male and date back to Hastert's time as wrestling coach and teacher at Yorkville High School.More:
Reached at his home, Garnett told the Chicago Tribune he remembered Hastert's commitment to his athletes, whom the coach often took on road trips to wrestling camps or to compete with larger suburban school districts in nonconference wrestling meets.
"That never even crossed my mind during the time I knew him," said Garnett, whose own children had Hastert as a teacher.
"The boys loved those trips, and it really did help them have more camaraderie as a team." The indictment notes that the person seeking the hush money has been a resident of Yorkville whom Hastert has known most of the person's life."I did witness Mr. Dennis Hastert with known child sex traffickers and child sex trafficking victims in the late 1970s"