We still haven't identified Individual A, the man who was blackmailing former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert over sexual abuses that took place when Hastert was a high school coach. But we now know that there was an Individual B. His name was Steve Reinboldt, and he had been an equipment manager (no puns, please) when he was a student in that school. Reinboldt died of AIDS some twenty years ago, but he described the incident to his sister Jolene, who has given a persuasive account
to ABC News.
Since the age of consent in Illinois is 17, and since the sister makes no allegation of rape, the wrong done to Reinboldt derives entirely from the fact that Hastert was an authority figure. And make no mistake: That wrong was profound. I'm as infuriated as any of you are by Hastert's behavior, and by his later hypocrisy in assailing President Clinton on moral grounds.
Nevertheless, I continue to question the way the FBI has handled this affair. As others have noted, it is not against the law to withdraw one's own money from the bank. (For that matter, there's no law against paying a blackmailer.) Outrageous as the comparison may seem at first, I think that we can liken Dennis Hastert and Freddie Gray. In both cases, authorities treated a man ruthlessly because he did not offer full cooperation -- and because he was the kind
of person that cops usually don't like.
If we are going to be advocates against "police state" tactics, then we must be consistent. We have to decry those tactics when they are used against both people we like and people we don't