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Kendall County judge denies summary judgment motions in James Doe, Hastert case

Ruling could mean the hush-money breach of contract case goes to trial

Kendall County Chief Judge Robert Pilmer talks May 31 before hearing arguments for summary judgment ahead of a potential trial for a breech of contract lawsuit between former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert and a man named as James Doe.
Kendall County Chief Judge Robert Pilmer talks May 31 before hearing arguments for summary judgment ahead of a potential trial for a breech of contract lawsuit between former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert and a man named as James Doe.

YORKVILLE – A Kendall County judge denied summary judgment motions from counsel for former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert and a man identified as James Doe in a breach of contract lawsuit between the two.

Kendall County Chief Judge Robert Pilmer filed the written order Tuesday, Sept. 10, citing issues of fact in the case as opposed to issues of law in the order.

Pilmer wrote part of his decision was determining whether the breach of the parties’ agreement by Doe was a material one. Although summary judgment can help in expoditing a lawsuit, it’s a drastic measure to date and should only be granted if the moving party’s right to a judgment is clear and free from doubt, according to Pilmer.

“Summary judgment is not appropriate where material facts are disputed, or if material facts are undisputed where reasonable persons may draw different inferences from undisputed facts,” Pilmer said.

The filed order means the case may go to trial in November.

Doe has accused Hastert of sexually abusing him when Hastert was a teacher at Yorkville High School and allegedly worked out a $3.5 million hush-money agreement with Hastert. Doe is suing Hastert for $1.8 million, plus interest from December 2014 to the date of payment, in the lawsuit that has been in court for more than two years, according to court documents.

The arrangement ultimately led to federal banking charges against the Plano Republican. Hastert served 13 months in federal prison on those charges. 

Hastert allegedly paid Doe $1.7 million between 2010 and 2014, according to court documents.

John Ellis, Hastert’s lawyer, had said Doe didn’t file the lawsuit in good faith because he breached the contract, which allegedly required strict confidentiality without exceptions. He had said Doe disclosed the existence and subject matter to his wife and therapist in 2010 and also told his father, brother, friend and wife’s sister’s brother about the agreement thereafter.

Pilmer wrote in his order any discussions Doe had about what happened between him and Hastert before the agreement was made are not relevant to the court. However, he said, Doe was obligated to not discuss it further.

“He needed to keep it secret,” Pilmer said. “He breached that obligation by continuing to discuss it with his family members, as well as with a friend from high school. It is also evident that at least one person with whom he discussed the existence of the agreement redisclosed the information to others.”

Peter Evans, one of Doe’s lawyers, had said confidential agreements usually allow for involved parties to disclose the existence of an agreement. He had said Doe disclosing the existence of the agreement to those six people was all that happened and that Doe only told law enforcement about the agreement when the FBI asked him about the payments in 2015.

Pilmer wrote in the order Black’s Law Dictionary defines confidential as “meant to be kept secret.” He wrote Doe cannot change the meaning of the confidential nature of the agreement to mean he doesn’t file suit, doesn’t go to the police, doesn’t go to news media and makes sure the claim doesn’t become public knowledge.

“These are additional terms which were not discussed by the parties,” Pilmer said.

Hastert served as a congressman from 1987 to 2007 and was U.S. House Speaker between 1999 and 2007. He taught at Yorkville High School and coached wrestling between 1965 and 1981.

All parties are due back in court 1 p.m. Friday, Sept. 13. Jury selection for the case is currently scheduled for Nov. 13 with the trial to commence on Nov. 18.

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