Sister of 2nd Alleged Victim of Dennis Hastert Comes Forward With Her Brother's Secret (VIDEO)

steve reinboldt dennis hastertHow long can you keep a family secret? One woman has stepped forward with a story she held for decades. Jolene Rienboldt says her brother, Steve, was victimized by former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert. She says she tried to tell her story to the media in 2006 but off the record. Now she's going public.

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Steve Rienboldt died from complications from the AIDS virus 20 years ago. He is not believed to be "Individual A," the person Hastert is accused of paying off to keep quiet about the former wrestling coach's sexual assaults. Rienboldt was a student manager for Hastert's wrestling team and a member of his Explorers troop. 

Eight years after he graduated from high school (in 1979) Steve Rienboldt came out as gay to his sister Jolene. When she asked about his first sexual experience he revealed it had been with Hastert.

What a blow. To find out your brother had been molested, for years, by his wrestling coach and scout master? The future lawmaker was still teaching and coaching at the time. Then, in 1980 he launched his political career. By 1981 he was an Illinois state senator. By 1986 he was elected to Congress.

Imagine watching your brother's molester rise in politics. Speaking of Steve, Jolene told ABC News, "He's been damaged more than any of us will ever know." When she asked Steve why he'd never told anyone what was happening to him her brother told her, "Who would ever believe me? Who in this town is ever going to believe me."

Jolene felt furious -- and maybe also a bit powerless. 

Hastert showed up for Reinboldt's funeral. Jolene confronted him then, demanding to know why he abused her brother. She says Hastert had no response. She told him, "I want you to know your secret didn't die in there with my brother. And I want you to remember that I'm out here. And that I know."

The media did not take the Reinboldts' story anywhere when she tried to expose the politician in 2006. It wasn't until the FBI contacted her this year about another of Hastert's alleged victims, that Jolene was bold enough to go public with her brother's secret. "Stevie we've done it," she thought to her dead brother. "We got him."

It's a bittersweet victory for Jolene. She was so angry, but she kept quiet for so long. And even when she made her first attempt at reporting her brother's abuse she couldn't go all the way. It must be terrifying, trying to level such a serious accusation against someone so powerful. I can't blame her for hesitating. But I'm glad she finally did, and I'm sure Steven would be grateful, too.


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Have you ever had to hold a family secret for years?

 

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