Here's the Sun-Times headline:
"Feds: Hastert paid to hide sexual abuse, then cried extortion"
"Feds say Hastert molested a 14-year-old boy — the Individual A who sparked the investigation — and then, decades later, gave him hush money. And when feds investigated the payments, Hastert tried to turn the tables on the victim, claiming extortion."
"In two recorded phone conversations, authorities noticed the man on the other line didn’t sound like he was being extorted. The victim spoke of the importance of keeping everything private because it was personal."
I'm not sure what it means that it didn't "sound like" extortion.
The Tribune, similarly, says that the victim "did not come off as an extortionist", mentioning that he did "not issue any threats".
My question, and it is a sincere one, is what are the elements of extortion in a case like this? It must come down to more than a threatening tone.
Let's suppose that the person being paid was a victim, and that Hastert truly was the perpetrator. So the victim has a plausible legal ground (mental suffering) for asking for payment. Is that why the victim has not committed a crime in this case?
A lawyer, some months back, offered this as a reason for why the victim didn't commit extortion:
"I'm willing to bet that what really happened is that a lawyer was hired by individual A and worked out a settlement that included a confidentiality clause and agreement not to sue. In exchange, Hastert agreed to pay him $3.5 million, but as sometimes happens, agreed to do it over time, or in this case, $50,000.00 a month. That's not extortion, that's a common civil case."
There's no mention of a lawyer in the regular newspapers so far. On the other hand, the presence of a lawyer isn't really important at all. If Individual A could legally cut such a deal using a lawyer, then he could legally cut such a deal without using one either. And, for all we know, Individual A is himself a lawyer.
It's a horrible messy case,
and Hastert should hide his face.