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Politics

Foley tells of being abused

The former lawmaker, through his attorney, says he was sexually abused by a clergyman as a teenager. He also confirms publicly that he is gay.

By ANITA KUMAR
Published October 4, 2006


Mark Foley issued a statement Tuesday saying he was abused as a teen.
Scandal has GOP leaders on defensive

Foley likely to face criminal charges, legal experts say

Political blog: The Buzz

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WASHINGTON - Former U.S. Rep. Mark Foley announced Tuesday that he was abused by a clergyman as a teenager, but he said he accepts responsibility for sending sexually explicit correspondence to boys.

His attorney, David Roth, also acknowledged at a news conference on Foley's behalf that the former congressman is gay, a widely held belief in Washington but a topic that Foley previously had declined to discuss.

"Mark Foley wants you to know he is a gay man," said Roth, speaking from West Palm Beach.

Roth said the disclosures were part of Foley's recovery for alcoholism and behavioral problems.

Foley was molested between ages 13 and 15 by a clergyman, Roth said. He would not identify the clergyman or the church. Foley is Roman Catholic.

Foley, 52, entered an in-patient rehabilitation facility at an undisclosed location about midnight Sunday. It came two days after he abruptly resigned following the public disclosure of e-mails and instant messages between him and former congressional pages that went back at least three years.

New Internet exchanges released Tuesday by ABC News indicate that Foley, using the screen name Maf54, may have met with teenage boys.

In one message, Foley appears to leave the House floor during votes to engage in Internet sex with a high school student. The exchange, in which Foley and the former page appear to describe having sexual orgasms, occurred on the night in 2003 that the House voted to provide more money for the war in Iraq.

Roth repeatedly said Tuesday that Foley never had inappropriate sexual contact with a minor and that he was under the influence of alcohol when he sent many of the messages. He said Foley drank at night, alone, but never at the Capitol.

The FBI and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said this weekend they are investigating the correspondence. Both agencies are using agents from their cyber child protection units.

FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey said the FBI has begun the process of seizing computers from Foley's homes and offices. He referred other questions to the FBI.

The FBI and U.S. Department of Justice did not return calls.

While in California on Tuesday, President Bush made his first remarks about the Foley scandal.

"I was dismayed and shocked to learn about Congressman Foley's unacceptable behavior," Bush said. "I was disgusted by the revelations and disappointed that he would violate the trust of the citizens who placed him in office."

The scandal comes just weeks before midterm elections in which some observers have said Democrats have their best chance in a dozen years to take control of the House.

It has left House Republican leaders fending off allegations that they knew about Foley's behavior for months but failed to adequately respond to it.

On Tuesday, the Democratic National Committee focused on Foley's former chief of staff, who now works for Rep. Tom Reynolds, leader of a group that helps Republicans get elected to the House.

Reynolds was one of several House leaders who knew of some "overly friendly" e-mails between Foley and one boy months ago.

The DNC said Reynolds "failed to ask the tough questions, choosing instead to cover up the facts."

Kirk Fordham, Reynolds chief of staff, said he never spoke to Reynolds about Foley's contacts with pages before the details of the e-mails became public last Thursday.

Fordham said that he provided advice to Foley last week and that when he learned the graphic sexual content of some of the instant messages, he confronted Foley.

"I said: 'Are these authentic?' and he said 'probably,' and he confirmed that they were likely his instant messages," Fordham said.

Fordham said the immediate reaction of his current boss, Reynolds, was to urge Foley to leave Congress.

"He told me Foley needed to resign," said Fordham, adding that the National Republican Congressional Committee wrote the first draft of Foley's resignation letter before it was rewritten on Foley's official letterhead.

Times staff writers Bill Adair, Steve Bousquet and Joni James and researcher Angie Drobnic Holan contributed to this report, which includes information from the Associated Press. Anita Kumar can be reached at akumar@sptimes.com or 202-463-0576.

[Last modified October 4, 2006, 07:18:10]


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