A former US speaker of the House of Representatives molested at least five boys as young as 14 while he was a high school wrestling coach, federal prosecutors have alleged.

Dennis Hastert is said to have carried out the abuse while he was working at Yorkville High School, in a suburb of Chicago, Illinois, from the 1960s to the 1980s.

He went on to become speaker of the House, making him second in line to the presidency, from 1999 to when he retired in 2007.

The 74-year-old Republican pleaded guilty in October to illegally structuring $1.7m (£1.2m) in bank withdrawals in cash over several years.

Prosecutors say the cash was paid to his victims to stop them going public.

The statutes of limitations have long passed on the abuse, meaning Hastert cannot be prosecuted for it.

However, for the financial case, prosecutors are asking for Hastert to receive a sentence of up to six months when he is sentenced on 27 April.

Defence lawyers want Hastert to be spared jail because of ill health, but prosecutors say he could continue to receive medical care while in prison.

According to the prosecutors, Hastert massaged two boys in the locker room on two separate occasions before performing an unspecified sex act on them.

One of those boys said that the coach would sit in a chair “in direct view of the shower stalls … while the boys showered.”

One of the victims was identified as Stephen Reinboldt, who died in 1995.

Prosecutors said Hastert agreed to pay another boy, Individual A, $3.5m (£2.4m) to “compensate” him for the abuse he suffered.

They wrote that the “defendant used his position of trust as a teacher and coach to touch a child’s genitals and then undress and ask the child for a back massage in a motel room.

“There is no ambiguity; defendant sexually abused Individual A.”

It is understood that some of the cash withdrawals took place between 2010 and 2014.