The Roman Catholic diocese where Mark Foley went to church as a child demanded Tuesday that the disgraced ex-congressman name the clergyman who he claims molested him 40 years ago.
J. Patrick Fitzgerald — lawyer for the Palm Beach, Fla., diocese — said in a letter that until Foley names the clergyman, “all clergy that served in Palm Beach County have been needlessly placed under suspicion.”
At a news conference last week, Foley’s attorney, David Roth, said Foley, now 52, had been molested by a member of the clergy when the former congressman was 13. The abuse continued until Foley was 15, Roth said. He refused to name the clergyman or the church where he said the molestation occurred.
At the news conference, Roth said Foley “does not blame the trauma he sustained as a young adolescent for his totally inappropriate e-mails” and online messages.
“He continues to offer no excuse whatsoever for his conduct,” he said.
Roth could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
In his letter to Roth, Fitzgerald wrote that identification of the alleged abuser would be in accordance with the diocese’s charter, which was adopted by the United States Roman Catholic Dioceses in 2002. That charter “encourages victims of abuse to come forward, identify the alleged perpetrator and report the abuse to the proper criminal authority.”
A spokeswoman for the Palm Beach Diocese said the letter was written because “we want to know if we should be taking any action in all of this.”
“Our legal counsel requested that (Foley and his lawyer) provide details about his alleged abuser because, since the vague allegation came out, it has painted us with a rather broad brush,” said Alexis Walkenstein, the diocese spokeswoman. “We don’t even know if it does involve our diocese. But Mr. Foley has a history of participation of parishes that fall under the jurisdiction of our diocese. So we want to know if we have any involvement.”
If Foley was molested, Fitzgerald wrote Roth in the letter, the diocese is interested in providing “assistance to you in facilitating your client’s healing process.”
Thomas Hargrove of Scripps Howard News Service contributed to this report.
(Contact Amie Parnes at ParnesA(at)shns.com)