Dennis Hastert: A Sexually Violent Predator?

Former U.S. Rep. Dennis Hastert may have inadvertently “Adam Walshed” himself when he pled guilty earlier this year and was sentenced last week to federal prison for having “structured” payments and withdrawals from his bank accounts in order to pay hush money to men he had molested as boys.

While most of the commentary has focused on Hastert's plea for a probationary sentence, and the Government's request for a relatively short prison sentence, few commentators have focused on what could happen to Hastert in BOP custody.

The Adam Walsh Act, passed and signed into law in 2006, permits the Attorney General to move for a competency hearing under 18 USC Sec. 4248 which allows for indefinite post-sentence detention of someone designated a “sexually dangerous” person at FCI Butner in the Eastern District of North Carolina. While those detentions are reviewed periodically, the reviews are not subject to Beyond a Reasonable Doubt analysis.

Dozens of people who have served their sentences are currently housed at Butner.

Hastert Wasn't Convicted of a Sex Offense

Wait, you may be saying to yourself. Dennis Hastert was not convicted of a sex offense; he was convicted of the financial crime of “structuring.”

A fine, but irrelevant point, because the Adam Walsh Act (also called the SORNA Act) merely requires that the person being certified as a “sexually dangerous” person come into the legal custody of the Bureau of Prisons.

And given that the underlying conduct that gave rise to the structuring involved the repeated sexual molestation of minors, Hastert could certainly fall under the purview of Sec. 4248.

Before you shed too many tears for Denny Hastert, remember that Hastert was Speaker of the House when Congress passed this overbroad and dangerous legislation in the mid-2006 and himself praised the legislation.

Here is a copy of Hastert’s plea agreement with the Government which doesn’t seem to preclude the ability of the BoP or Attorney General to have him declared a sexually violent predator under 18 USC 4248.

Damon Chetson

Damon Chetson is a Board Certified Specialist in State and Federal Criminal Law. He represents people charged with serious and minor offenses in Raleigh, Wake County, and the Eastern District of North Carolina. Call (919) 352-9411.