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From Hastert to Jordan: GOP leaders have long been on the wrong side of sexual abuse
And there's Trump too! The party of groomers.
Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (Wikimedia Commons)
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Donald Trump may soon break the record, but currently the highest-ranking elected official in U.S. history to serve a prison sentence is another Republican: former House Speaker Dennis Hastert.
Hastert, before entering politics, was…a wrestling coach.
Hastert worked as a school teacher at Yorkville High School in Yorkville, Illinois, where he also served as both a football and wrestling coach. In 1980, Hastert entered politics, serving in the Illinois legislature, and in 1986 he was elected to Congress. He moved up the leadership rungs and, in 1998, became House speaker. He was staunchly conservative, an evangelical Christian who opposed abortion.
He voted against a bill protecting gays and lesbians from job discrimination and supported a constitutional amendment to define marriage as “between one man and one woman.” In 2004, speaking to the Christian Coalition, he defended his anti-gay positions: “We will not allow [liberal judges] to put our children’s future at risk.”
In other words, gays (and liberals) are “groomers.” But once again, this was projection: in 2015, federal prosecutors alleged that Hastert had sexually abused at least four boys as young as 14 while he was a high school wrestling coach. At a sentencing hearing, Hastert admitted to engaging in the abuse, as a judge dubbed him a “serial child molester.”
He was sentenced to 15 months in prison and two years of supervised release. Technically, the sentencing was for charges related to banking violations after he made suspicious, illegally structured cash withdrawals, which it turned out were being used for hush money payments (yes, like a certain former president and presidential candidate), paid to keep the sexual abuse secret. (The statute of limitations on the abhorrent acts of sexual abuse themselves had expired.)
I was brought back to Hastert by Sanho Tree, a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies—who I must thank for inspiring this entire post—who replied to my tweet about Jordan yesterday.
“If Jim Jordan is elected,” he wrote, “Republicans will have had TWO Speakers in 16 years who were both former wrestling coaches that were on the wrong side of the sexual molestation of student wrestlers. This is a party running on the idea that liberals are sexual ‘groomers.’”
That’s 100% true and must be repeatedly stated. As I wrote on Monday, Jordan has been embroiled for many years in the terrible sex abuse scandal at Ohio State University, where Dr. Richard Strauss sexually assaulted 171 students as an athletics and student health doctor, including many wrestlers, over a 20-year period (1978–1998), according to an OSU report.
The statute of limitations on those cases expired too. But wrestlers have come forward, stating unequivocally that Jim Jordan, then an OSU assistant wrestling coach, knew about it and did nothing to protect them, some of them speaking out again even last week. Several have stated they pleaded with Jordan for help but were waved off. Another report alleges Jordan knew of other aggressive men sexually harassing the wrestlers while they showered, and Jordan did not take administrative action.
And yet, Jordan, like Hastert, has supported efforts to discriminate against LGBTQ people while drawing on the heinous “groomer” lie, claiming LGBTQ rights are a danger to children. As the Human Rights Campaign outlines:
Earlier this year, he voted in favor of legislation that would bar transgender, nonbinary and intersex youths across the country from participating in school sports on teams consistent with their gender identity.
Among the key pieces of legislation that Jordan has spoken against and voted against are the Equality Act, which would guarantee nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people, and the Respect for Marriage Act, which protects marriage equality for LGBTQ+ people.
Jordan has deep ties to extremist groups such as the Family Research Council and Alliance Defending Freedom, which promote the “groomer” lie and other vicious, dangerous conspiracy theories about queer people.
Just like Hastert, Jordan, who supports a federal abortion ban, promotes himself as a devout evangelical Christian who is concerned about children. But when it came time to protect young people from abuse, those young people say he looked the other way.
Vile charlatans and hypocrites like Jordan smear queer people as sexual predators, while they and their MAGA colleagues hold up Donald Trump as an icon, a president for American children to emulate—a man accused by dozens of women of sexual assault and found by a judge in New York to have raped writer E. Jean Carroll, who finally got justice from a jury in a civil court earlier this year.
If Jordan, now chair of the House Judiciary Committee, becomes House speaker, he follows in a line of Republican leaders—and that’s not to mention the rank and file GOP politicians, from former Representatives Madison Cawthorne and Tom Reed to current Representatives Matt Gaetz and Lauren Boebert—who’ve been accused of engaging in or ignoring sexual misconduct.
It’s been said before but needs to be stated again and again: they rail against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people, demonizing us as harmful to children, while they are actually the party of groomers.