Attorney: Clergyman Molested Foley As Teen - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

10/3/06-Stockton, CA

Attorney: Clergyman Molested Foley As Teen

Former Rep. Mark Foley was molested by a clergyman when he was between the ages of 13 and 15, his attorney said Tuesday amid allegations that the congressman exchanged inappropriate e-mails and instant messages with teen congressional pages.

Attorney David Roth said Foley had never had sexual contact with a minor and said any assertion that Foley is a pedophile is "categorically false."

Roth would not release details of the alleged molestation, saying only that making it public "is part of Mark's recovery" and that Foley would discuss it further when he is released from a center where he's being treated for alcoholism and mental issues. It will be at least 30 days before he is discharged, Roth said.

Roth added that "Mark Foley wants you to know he is a gay man."

Though the attorney would not provide the religious affiliation of the clergyman who allegedly molested Foley, Foley lists his religion as Catholic, according to a congressional directory.

"He continues to offer no excuse whatsoever for his conduct," said Roth, who spoke to Foley on Tuesday. "This was a life decision, not a tactical one made by others."

Asked why Foley waited to divulge the alleged molestation, Roth replied, "Shame. Shame."

Roth's announcement came shortly after ABC News published correspondences it said indicated Foley had Internet sex with a former page before going to a vote on the House floor in 2003.

The network published a partial transcript on its Web site but did not quote the exchanges in which it said the congressman and the high school student apparently had orgasms.

Former pages gave ABC News the transcripts, which were dated 2003, the network reported.

The ongoing scandal erupted Friday when Foley, a Florida Republican, resigned amid questions over e-mails he allegedly wrote to a former page, asking the boy what he liked he to do and requesting a photograph.

The teen forwarded the messages to a congressional colleague, calling the correspondences "sick, sick, sick."

Soon after, instant messages surfaced in which Foley reportedly engaged in sexually explicit exchanges with a teenage male page.

In one exchange, Foley allegedly asked the boy, "Do I make you a little horny?"

President Bush said Tuesday he was "disgusted" by the accusations surrounding Foley.

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

Bush said that he supported the call by House Speaker Dennis Hastert for a full investigation.

The president also voiced support for Hastert, calling him a "father, a teacher, a coach" and said the Illinois Republican "wants to ensure these children on Capitol Hill are protected."

Bush's comments came after an editorial in The Washington Times newspaper called for Hastert to resign his speaker's position over the scandal.

With just five weeks before midterm elections, GOP leaders tried to stem the fallout from the Foley matter.

The scandal threatened to hurt the GOP, with control of the House up for grabs in November. Florida state party officials Monday chose state Rep. Joe Negron to replace Foley on the ballot.

Foley 'on his way to jail'?

Signaling a possible split in the House GOP leadership, House Majority Leader John Boehner and Rep. Tom Reynolds, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, both said they had discussed with Hastert the allegations involving Foley upon learning of them.

"My position is, it's in his corner; it's his responsibility," Boehner, an Ohio Republican, told Cincinnati, Ohio, radio station WLW Tuesday. "The clerk of the House who runs the page program, the Page Board -- all report to the speaker. And I believe it had been dealt with."

Boehner said he was "outraged" when he learned of the allegations, calling them "abhorrent."

"Frankly, I think he's on his way to jail. Some member who preys on children who are in our care is just outrageous," he said.

Boehner, whose daughter was once a page, said if he had learned of the allegations against Foley earlier, "I'd have drug him out of there by his shirtsleeves."

Rep. John Shimkus, chairman of the House Page Board, has acknowledged knowing about an "overly friendly" exchange between Foley and a former male page. The e-mails, which occurred in 2005 between Foley and a page from Louisiana, were not sexually explicit.

Foley assured Shimkus that nothing inappropriate had occurred, and Foley was warned not to have contact with the teen and to watch his conduct around pages, Shimkus said.

Reynolds, of New York, said he informed Hastert about the allegations because he thought it was appropriate to tell his "supervisor" about allegations of possible sexual misconduct.

But Reynolds, who learned of the e-mails earlier this year from Rep. Rodney Alexander, the Louisiana Republican who sponsored the page, said he never saw the e-mails or knew about the more explicit messages from 2003.

Once he saw them Friday, he began working "swiftly and immediately" to get Foley to resign.

Hastert said Monday that he does not recall being told by Reynolds about the e-mails between Foley and the teen, although he did not dispute that the conversation may have happened.

"If he did, he brought it in with a whole stack of things," the speaker said.

Hastert insisted that top Republican leaders did not know about the sexually explicit instant messages Foley allegedly sent pages in 2003 until "ABC News released them to the public."

He added that if Foley had not resigned, "I would have demanded his expulsion from the House of Representatives."

Call for Hastert to resign

Meanwhile, Hastert is faced with his own call to step down, as an editorial on the The Washington Times Web site Monday called on Hastert to "do the only right thing and resign his speakership at once."

"Either he was grossly negligent for not taking the red flags fully into account and ordering a swift investigation, for not even remembering the order of events leading up to last week's revelations -- or he deliberately looked the other way in hopes that a brewing scandal would simply blow away."

A spokesman for Hastert said the speaker would not step down.

"Mark Foley has resigned his seat in dishonor and the criminal investigation of this matter will continue," said Ron Bonjean. "The speaker is working every day on ensuring the House is a safe, productive environment for members, staff and all those who are employed by the institution."

Boehner wrote a letter responding to the Washington Times' editor, explaining why Hastert should not step down.

"One thing is certain: No one in the leadership, including Speaker Hastert, had any knowledge of the warped and sexually explicit instant messages that were revealed by ABC News last Friday," he wrote.

Had Hastert known, he "would have moved to expel Mr. Foley immediately and turn him over to the appropriate authorities," Boehner wrote.

A GOP aide said House Republican leaders held a conference call Monday night with about 100 members, answering questions and reassuring them that there was an investigation into the situation. There were no calls for Hastert to resign, the aide said.

The FBI, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the House Ethics Committee are investigating Foley's conduct -- and whether there was any attempt to cover it up.

Foley, a six-term congressman and co-chairman of the Missing and Exploited Children's Caucus, was undergoing treatment for alcoholism and mental illness, his lawyer said Monday.

CNN's Susan Candiotti, Andrea Koppel, John Zarrella and Dana Bash contributed to this report.

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