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Doe, Hastert breach-of-contract trial dates pushed back to April

YORKVILLE – The trial for a $1.8 million breach-of-contract case between former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert and a man known as James Doe has been delayed another six months.

In a Monday court hearing, Kendall County Chief Judge Robert Pilmer ordered the final trial setting date be April 15, with the jury trial scheduled to commence April 20. The order comes after John Ellis, Hastert’s lawyer, filed a motion last week to reschedule trial dates for the case because of issues that arose concerning Hastert’s availability for the trial, which originally was scheduled for Nov. 18.

“I will grant the motion to continue the jury trial based on Mr. Hastert’s current condition,” Pilmer said.

Ellis declined to comment on the exact nature of Hastert’s lack of availability for the trial previously scheduled for this month.

Ellis also declined to comment on whether those reasons were health-related in light of several reports of Hastert allegedly being admitted to a Kendall County nursing facility. Representatives from the nursing home that Hastert was allegedly checked into declined to confirm whether he currently is there.

Pilmer also said he will hear arguments in court at 1 p.m. March 11 over the 17 motions in limine, or requests for certain testimony or evidence to be excluded from the trial, filed by Browne and 18 filed by Ellis.

Among those motions in limine are Hastert’s counsel requesting to preclude evidence of Hastert’s criminal conviction, supervised release conditions and related statements, citing hearsay and prejudicial concerns, according to court documents. Those motions also include Doe’s counsel requesting leading questions of Hastert by his counsel to be barred if Doe’s counsel calls Hastert as an adverse witness during the trial.

Kristi Browne, Doe’s lawyer, had said both parties are in agreement for a few motions in limine, but there are several that still are in contention.

The update also comes after both parties failed to reach a settlement during an Oct. 18 conference at the courthouse.

Doe, a former wrestler at Yorkville High School, is suing Hastert – who served as a congressman from 1987 to 2007 and was U.S. House Speaker between 1999 and 2007 – for not paying in full an allegedly agreed upon $3.5 million in hush money. He has accused Hastert of sexually abusing him when Hastert was a teacher and wrestling coach at the high school.

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

Browne said there’s always a chance that the case could reach a settlement before the newly scheduled trial dates. For the time being, she said, she still expects the case going to trial and Doe testifying in the trial.

“Of course, we’re disappointed – we want the case to go to trial,” Browne said. “But these are circumstances beyond anyone’s control. There’s nothing we can do.”

Browne had said her client would have to be identified and in the presence of the jury during its selection to identify any potential conflicts of interest among possible jurors.

The case is due back in court 1 p.m. Nov. 20 on other remaining motions in the case. Those motions include one filed by Doe’s counsel to reconsider the court’s finding that Doe breached the agreement between him and Hastert in not keeping the agreement strictly confidential.

• This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

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