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Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert‘s alleged sexual abuse of a male student over 30 years ago when he was a high school teacher may not have been completely unknown to fellow congressional members, according to Politico.

Former congressman Mel Watt, who is now head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, acknowledged on Tuesday that years ago he heard a rumor about misbehavior by Hastert, the longest-serving Republican speaker in the history of the U.S. House of Representatives, reports the news outlet.

Watt’s statement came after The Huffington Post reported that he was “likely aware” that Hastert had allegedly molested a former male student.

Via Politico:

“Over 15 years ago I heard an unseemly rumor from someone who, contrary to what has been reported, was not an intermediary or advocate for the alleged victim’s family,” Watt said in an emailed statement. “It would not be the first nor last time that I, as a Member of Congress, would hear rumors or innuendoes about colleagues. I had no direct knowledge of any abuse by former Speaker Hastert and, therefore, took no action.”

Watt served in the House from 1998 to early 2014, while Hastert retired from Congress in 2007.

Hastert, the longest-serving Republican House speaker in history, was indicted last week based on allegations that he sought to cover up what prosecutors contend was a deal to pay $3.5 million to an acquaintance over “prior misconduct” by the longtime politician.

The indictment did not describe the nature of the misconduct, but the document hints it was related to his career as a wrestling coach and high school teacher before he got into politics in the early 1980s, the report notes.



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