Former Rep. Melvin Watt, now the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) director, acknowledged this week that he heard an "unseemly rumor" about alleged sexual misconduct by former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Illinois, but denied any actual knowledge of the incident.
"Over 15 years ago I heard an unseemly rumor from someone who, contrary to what has been reported, was not an intermediary or advocate for the alleged victim's family. It would not be the first nor last time that I, as a Member of Congress, would hear rumors or innuendoes about colleagues. I had no direct knowledge of any abuse by former Speaker Hastert and, therefore, took no action," Watt said in a statement released this week.
Watt issued the statement following a report from the Huffington Post that he had heard the allegations against Hastert while serving as a Democratic congressman from North Carolina.
Early in Hastert's term as House Speaker, Watt heard news of the abuse, according to the source who overheard the conversation take place. The source does not know what Watt did with the information, according to the Huffington Post.
Last week, Hastert was indicted and charged with violating federal banking laws and lying to FBI investigators. According to the indictment, Hastert agreed to pay $3.5 million in 2010 to a person identified only as "Individual A," in an effort to "compensate and conceal" Hastert's "prior misconduct."
Law enforcement sources told CBS News the misconduct mentioned in court documents refers to sexual misconduct allegations involving a young man that date back more than 30 years. From 1965-1981, Hastert was a popular teacher and wrestling coach in Yorkville, Illinois.
During an interview with Politico last week, Hastert denied the claims of misconduct. He refused to discuss the topic, simply stating, "I'm not going to talk to you."
He is the longest-serving Republican House Speaker in history. His position put him second in line for the presidency, after the vice president.
Hastert's indictment carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000.
The arraignment on the charges has been delayed a week, and was originally scheduled for today. No reason was given for the delayed hearing, now scheduled for June 9.
On Monday, Wheaton College, Hastert's alma mater, announced that it had removed his name from the public policy center that was once named after him. Last week, Hastert resigned from the center's board of advisors.
"In light of the charges and allegations that have emerged, the College has re-designated the Center as the Wheaton College Center for Economics, Government, and Public Policy at this time," the college said in a statement.