NEW YORK — A woman named her deceased brother Friday as a victim of sexual abuse by J. Dennis Hastert, the former House speaker, saying the abuse took place while he was a student at the Illinois high school where Hastert was a wrestling coach.
The comments by the woman, made on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” marked the first time that a person has been publicly identified as a possible victim of Hastert.
The woman, Jolene Reinboldt Burdge, said her brother, Stephen Reinboldt, was an equipment manager at the high school in Yorkville, Ill.
In the interview Friday, Burdge called Hastert a father figure for her brother, adding that Stephen Reinboldt had been part of a group that accompanied him on a trip to the Bahamas.
Hastert was a high school teacher and coach in Yorkville from 1965 to 1981 and worked with the Boy Scouts.
Burdge said she learned of the years of abuse when her older brother revealed to her that he was gay eight years after he left high school.
“I asked him, ‘When was your first same-sex experience?’” she said. “He looked at me and said, ‘It was with Dennis Hastert.’ I was stunned.”
“And he just turned around and kind of looked at me and said, ‘Who is ever going to believe me?’”
Burdge said she believed the abuse ended when her brother moved away after his high school graduation in 1971. Stephen Reinboldt died of AIDS in 1995.
Burdge said she had confronted Hastert when he unexpectedly came to her brother’s funeral, telling him, “I want you to know that your secret didn’t die here with my brother.”