A federal judge in Chicago sentenced former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert to fifteen months in prison for violating banking laws in connection with a cover-up for child molestation.
Hastert, who had a stroke several months ago, was paying a man to be silent about being sexually abused by the disgraced politician decades ago when he was a high school wrestling coach.
The statute of limitations for that crime has passed, but the judge also ordered Hastert to enroll in a sex-offender treatment program.
In a statement before the sentencing, Hastert said, “I want to apologize to the boys I mistreated when I was their coach. What I did was wrong, and I regret it. They looked up to me, and I took advantage of them.”
During Thursday’s edition of NewsOne Now, guest host Van Jones and the day’s panel of guests discussed the sentencing and the egregious disparities in justice this case has exposed when punishing politicians for wrong-doing.
Panelist Lauren Victoria Burke said, “The sentencing and the way he’s perceived is a great example of the disparities in our country with regard to race – particularly with regard to sentencing disparities.”
Burke expounded upon her point: “When it’s Kwame Kilpatrick and Bill Jefferson and Jesse Jackson, Jr. these guys get real time, particularly Bill Jefferson got a record amount of time, as did Kwame Kilpatrick.”
She added, “The underlying case here, sex case – they knew that, they were aware of that – all of a sudden everybody gets real creative with sentencing. When it’s somebody African-American, they get less creative.”
“I think there is a huge disparity in justice here,” she said.
Watch guest host Van Jones, Lauren Victoria Burke, and the rest of the NewsOne Now panel discuss the sentencing of former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert in the video clip above.