Foley’s sexual emails ‘just the tip of the iceberg’

By M.E. SPRENGELMEYER AND AIMEE PARNES

Sexually-explicit messages from former Rep. Mark Foley to one former congressional page might be just the tip of the iceberg, the leader of an alumni association for former congressional pages said over the weekend.

While Foley was forced to resign this week after published reports of "friendly" e-mails to one 16-year-old male page and the pending broadcast of more sexually-explicit instant messages, similar, graphic messages from him were received by at least three other teenage males who once worked in page program, said Matthew Loraditch, a Maryland college senior who runs the U.S. House Page Alumni Association’s Internet Message board.

Loraditch, who served in the page program in the 2001-2002 session, said he has reviewed graphic messages sent by Foley to "three or four" other males from his page class.

"I’ve known about them for several years now," Loraditch said Saturday.

"It was more like, hey, look at this," said Loraditch, 21. "I don’t think the people in question felt that uncomfortable. It was more, ‘Ooh, look at that creepy guy.’ It was definitely crossing-the-line stuff. The instant message stuff, and stuff I’ve seen and heard about, definitely couldn’t be misconstrued" as merely "friendly" or innocent, Loraditch said. Fallout continued Saturday from Foley’s sudden resignation Friday as copies of his questionable communications with former congressional pages began circulating on the Internet.

A spokesman for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement confirmed that the agency was deciding whether or not to pursue charges against Foley, a Republican whose resignation has temporarily left the Treasure Coast without representation in Congress.

"We will be discussing this matter with the FBI in an effort to determine if there are grounds for a criminal investigation and if so, who has jurisdiction, " said Tom Berlinger, the chief media spokesman for the FDLE.

A decision was expected this week, Berlinger said, adding that the agency had not yet contacted Foley. FBI officials could not be reached for comment.

Foley came under fire early last week after reports about a series of e-mails sent from his personal AOL account to a then-16-year-old boy. In it, Foley, 52, asked about the boy’s age, what he wanted for his birthday and requested a photograph.

He resigned after a media outlet questioned him about another set of communications, a series of sexually-explicit instant messages with a former congressional page who still was in high school. Among those was one asking the boy, "Do I make you a little horny?"

Loraditch said that during his time on Capitol Hill, Foley was one of the members of Congress who expressed what appeared to be a sincere interest in the young pages, often visiting the areas where they congregate in the corner of the House of Representatives chamber to chat or offer stories and advice.

Loraditch said that he and other pages viewed Foley as gregarious and "flaky" at the time, and that he offered several of them, not including Loraditch, his personal e-mail when they were graduating from the program and saying goodbyes.
After Loraditch returned to Maryland and began attending college at Towson University, several former male pages told him they had received Internet messages that were similar to the graphic messages first reported by ABC News last week.

"At the age we were when those things happened, 16 or 17, when you see that kind of stuff, most people our ages know what’s going on and know what’s happening," Loraditch said. "You’re not like a little kid who can be roped into that."
Loraditch said his friends all thought the messages were disturbing, but that they did not report them, either because they did not think they posed a serious threat or because they might have worried about career consequences.

Loraditch said that all his friends received the questionable messages only after they had graduated and left the program, when, theoretically, that would not raise the same in-house sexual harassment issues as if they had been sent when the former pages still worked for Congress.

"This all happened after we were outside the protective umbrella of all our supervisors, not when we were there," Loraditch said. "To me, that indicates some sorta thought process going on in Foley’s mind."

The case has prompted many congressional leaders to talk about stepped-up vigilance to protect the young men and women who serve as congressional pages, who get an up-close look at Congress while doing messenger-like duties for lawmakers.

Loraditch is a big backer of the program for its one-of-a-kind educational benefits, and he believes that none of the supervisors who run the program were aware of any inappropriate messages at the time.

"The supervisors I worked with, if any of them had been told, it would have been dealt with at the time promptly," he said. "All of our supervisors were great people. They love pages. Half of them were former pages and they’ve got kids of they’re own. If they had known about it, it would have been dealt with."

In the wake of the Foley scandal, many pages worry that the program could be drastically altered or eliminated entirely in an over-reaction intended to protect teenagers.

"The page program is a good program. I firmly believe that the program could not have done anything more to protect the pages," he said. "It all happened after we left and had done our service."

20 Responses to "Foley’s sexual emails ‘just the tip of the iceberg’"

  1. Fred Goepfert  October 2, 2006 at 4:40 pm

    It’s the tip of the iceberg, but when the FBI starts digging deeper, there are going to be a disturbing number of DemLibs, who have been guilty of sexually exploiting male and female pages.

  2. Ted Remington  October 2, 2006 at 8:28 pm

    I heard that some years back Foley told his friends he was reformed and would no longer engage in activities such as that that caused his resignation.

    Recently on of his friends encountered him in the halls of Congress, following closely on the heels of a rapidly retreating 16-year-old.

    “Mark,” his friend remonstrated, “I thought you were going to turn over a new leaf.”

    “I am,” panted Foley, “just as soon as I get to the bottom of this page.”

  3. OgDor  October 2, 2006 at 9:29 pm

    Checking into rehab is a calculated move politically and ‘criminally:’ in a clinic he’s beyond the reach of reporters for several weeks and those on staff can’t comment on his condition. What do you guess his check-out date will be relative to 11/7?Also, alcoholism is now seen as a medical condition and maybe he’ll try to avoid some responsibility or gather some sympathy when it comes time to answer charges.

  4. Big Time Patriot  October 2, 2006 at 10:08 pm

    Jerry, glad to know that you think middle aged men hitting on underaged people who they have a position of authority over is behavior “not at all of the worst kind. Hardly of the nasty kind. Hardly of the abnormal kind, either, since American culture often focuses on teenage sexuality.”

    If 16-17 year olds are all so worldly and wise, how come we don’t allow them to vote or go to war for us? Apparently you consider them adults, do you think there is any reason they are not considered adults generally? There are studies that the part of the brain that makes more subtle levels of judgement is the last part of the brain that develops. Because a 16 year old can talk like an adult, doesn’t mean they can compete in judgement versus a middle-aged congressmen.

    While their is a lot of focus on teenage sexuality in the media, and people may ponder certain inappropriate subjects in the privacy of their own mind (not ME, but some people), once an adult acts on those ponderings with someone who is not an adult, that is EXACTLY where the line crosses to the worst,nasty and abnormal behavior.

    Foley’s ACTIONS were his BIG mistake, doing those actions via a recordable electronic means was just a small thing compared to that.

  5. rrk1  October 2, 2006 at 11:40 pm

    Foley’s foolish behavior and inability to control his misguided attentions, if that’s the extent of his transgressions, is one thing, but there are some relevant facts, it seems.

    1) The age-of-consent in Washington is 16, as it is in many states. If a 16-year-old can legally consent to sex with an adult (of any age presumably), then receiving stupid and unwanted suggestive emails (after the page experience is over) doesn’t sound illegal.
    2) By their own admission the pages, and ex-pages knew what was going on, and weren’t that troubled by it. Their parents might be, but the teenagers weren’t. Seems to me their judgment had developed sufficiently to make the proper decisions in this instance, even if the the same conclusions a parent would arrive at.
    3) So far I haven’t read any evidence that Foley used his position of authority to force anyone to do anything. He may have, but no one has accused him yet. Who knows what possessed him to be as foolish as he was. He can’t be very bright.
    4) We do permit 16-year-olds to drive. Doesn’t that call for a lot of judgement? One can argue 18-year-olds shouldn’t be allowed to vote or carry sophisticated firearms in the military either because their brains haven’t developed enough to make the subtle judgments necessary in life and death situations, or in the polling booths,but we do. I couldn’t vote until I was 21, but i could have been drafted at 18. Shall we make the driving age, age of maturity and consent 21? Wouldn’t the military like that.
    5) Trying to create a risk-free environment, especially for mid/late teenagers, is sheer folly. No amount of law or so-called protection is going to achieve that unless we lock them all up until they’re 25, which any number of parents would love to do as long as it isn’t in their homes.
    6) Marriage is legal for teenagers in many states even though, technically, having sex with them is not. Aside from the exposure of hypocrisy, which I savor, this is, except for the GOP coverup, largely a tempest in a teapot.

  6. california rick  October 2, 2006 at 11:59 pm

    wow…of course this whole thing makes me sick..sick and tired of Republican’s preaching morality and doing the opposite..

    (Laughing out Loud)

    Acting pious, and then doing the opposite has been the modus operend of the Bush Administration since day one – in every course of action they have undertaken.

    Talk about wag the dog!!

  7. Rick  October 3, 2006 at 12:29 am

    Seems to me this is just another smoke screen to take peoples attention away from the fact a Get Out OF Jail Free Card was just given to the Bush Administration for WAR CRIMES. Where re you on the blatant unconstitutionality of said legislation Doug. Or are you going to curl up and hide as you will no doubt be deemed an enemy combatant. See you in the Stalag Doug.

  8. East Bay Will  October 3, 2006 at 6:08 am

    Hey, Jerry, thanks for pointing out the distinction between pedophilia and ephebophilia. Here are some other distinctions: RIGHT vs. WRONG; SICK vs. HEALTHY; TRUTH vs. LIES.

    And for rrk1…buddy, you are right — sixteen is the age of consent in DC and many other states. However, a 52 year old sitting member of the United States House of Representatives contacting a sixteen year old page boy in that institution with sexually explicit communications is not acceptable. How can you even think for a moment that this could pass, unless of course, you’re using Denny Hastert’s moral compass? Dude, it’s cool, hell they’re savvy teens. Their grandfather’s friends probably all want to play with them. NO!! How about some perspective? What if Foley sent you emails wanting vital statistics? How would you feel? And you aren’t even under his control? This is at the very least gross sexual harrassment and an utter breech of the public trust. It is immoral, unethical and once the depths are plumbed, undoubtedly illegal, the age of consent notwithstanding.

    Jerry, you make a great point that Foley was foolish to leave a trail. Well, get this — he’s an ADDICT — and I guarantee you there’s a whole damned Verrazzano Bridge he left out there to point the authorities to where it is Mark Foley really lives. It is true that no one has charged Mark Foley with actually having sex with anyone. And, like Tinkerbell says, we gotta believe. I wanna support you all in that belief system. Yeah, dude, itz probly jus chat rm fun, k?

  9. Blake  October 3, 2006 at 8:27 am

    Wasn’t this the same congressman who authored a child protection law and now might be ensnared by that same law? You have to wonder about politicians or anyone for that matter who are a little overzealous about what they preach against; whether they are anti-gay fundamentalists, anti-drug crusaders or pro-family values zealots, etc. They sometimes use their extreme positions as cover for their true selves. Look at the former, now deceased mayor of Spokane, WA, Jim West. When he was a Washington State legislator he was constantly sponsoring anti-gay, pro-family values legislation, which it turns out was a cover for his homosexuality. Most of the people in the know knew he gay, but as long as he did the conservatives bidding and maintained a low profile, it was kept secret. He was caught when some of the young boys he was trying to shag turned him in via the local newspaper, which then forced a recall and he was voted out of office less than a year later.
    Why should Congressman Foley be any different? Thats not to say scandals don’t happen to democrats, but are less so because the democrats are more welcoming to differences (gays, minorities, religions)than Republicans who supposedly use moral values as their platform to the exclusion of just about everything else. We’ll just have to see how much the tip of the iceberg melts to expose the other closeted politicians in our midst.

  10. Jerry  October 3, 2006 at 12:59 pm

    Hi, Big Time Patriot.

    I guess I laid myself open to a misunderstanding. I was not implying that picking up 16-year-olds was hunky dory. Lord knows, adults have a hard enough time sorting out the emotions and tantrums of one-night stands on the side; like you, I believe young teenagers ought to be shielded from such emotional roller coaster rides, *particularly* when there is the gloss of employer/employee about the whole thing, and *especially* when the employment relationship is teenage page boy to super-duper, kings-of-the-world, I’m a Congressman, I can do no wrong, politicians of either party.

    Agreed, what Foley did was wrong.

    But what is going to fry Foley is not what he did, but who he is.

    On the continuum of nasty sexual behavior, what Foley actually did is well to the innocent end of matters. We’re not talking 3 year-olds. We’re not talking S&M or rape. It’s loney middle-aged man making a rather sad pass or two at teenagers. Tame stuff on the spectrum of bad behavior.

    But despite the tameness of it all, he’s still going to get hanged drawn and quartered for doing it “while a Congressman.”

    Congress — both sides — are going to eviscerate him. Dems to score points against Republican Family Values, and Republicans to distance themselves as far as possible from the Dems’ attack.

    Foley is a dead man walking.

  11. peter pan  October 3, 2006 at 1:30 pm

    the real issue here.. the real issue with ALL present political issues is not the gay congressman, ITS THE PATRIOT ACT, STUPID!

    STOP LETTING THEM SMOKE AND MIRROR YOU, WHILE THEY ERASE OUR RIGHTS. do ya think anyone cared about jefferson screwin his girlfreind behind his wife’s back, no, they cared about the nation FIRST… for without it, that teen HAS NO PROTECTIONS UNDER THE LAW. THE NEXT KID THAT TATTLES ON HIS UNCLE CONGRESSMAN WILL END UP IN GUANTANAMO,

    TIS TRUE, AMERICA, FOR ALL ITS STUPIDITY PERHAPS DOESNT DESERVE HER FREEDOMS, cause she certainly doesnt value them over the egotistical symbolic victory of crap like this….
    again,

    its the patriot act, stupid! (and his little torture package, that doesnt help any)

  12. john  October 2, 2006 at 12:11 pm

    It looks like when Republicans are confronted with a choice of party loyalty or ethical behaviour ethical behaviour invariably loses out. :>(

  13. john  October 2, 2006 at 12:39 pm

    the latest is that Foley is going to check himself into drug rehab.

  14. ebbtide  October 2, 2006 at 1:18 pm

    That’s really the point isn’t it? Foley himself is pathetic and should seek help and be given help if he wants it.

    The more important issue is the party’s handling of this matter–what did they know and when did they know it? There just may be a criminal conspiracy here.

  15. Jerry  October 2, 2006 at 1:30 pm

    I teach various criminal justice subjects, and I’d take issue with the title line of this conversation thread, because Foley has not been accused of “pedophilia” — it is more a case of ephebophilia, the distinction being that pedophiles are attracted to prepubescent children, whereas Foley seems to have been flirting with 16- or 17 year-olds who are smart enough to be Congressional pages in the first place and who, “(a)t the age we were when those things happened, 16 or 17, … know what’s going on and know what’s happening,” Loraditch said. “You’re not like a little kid who can be roped into that.” In that sense, Foley’s behavior is not at all of the worst kind. Hardly of the nasty kind. Hardly of the abnormal kind, either, since American culture often focuses on teenage sexuality.

    That will not save him from being hanged, drawn, and quartered, though.

    Foley’s big mistake is leaving an electronic paper trail, which can only be described as insanely, perversely, terminally stupid for a Congressman. Rather like the distiction between drinking on the one hand and drinking and driving on the other, Foley should be tried not for his emails, but emailing while a Congressman. Are Americans prepared to put up with political representatives who are that dumb-ass stupid? How could he possibly think that these emails and IM messages would not, in time, surface to ruin his career?

    Maybe it’s another case of Republican “look on the bright side (it’s Morning in America) and forget the risk” pathology. Messaging a 16-year-old and asking him to take off his boxers becomes, in Wolfowitz’s words, a “cakewalk” for which perhaps Foley thought he’d never have to answer.

    In Rumsfeld’s words, “stuff happens,” and no-one should be called to account for it, least of all senior Republicans.

    But it is indeed “Morning in America” and the light is beginning to shine. One more down and a whole bunch to go.

  16. Editor  October 2, 2006 at 1:53 pm

    Jerry writes:

    I teach various criminal justice subjects, and I’d take issue with the title line of this conversation thread, because Foley has not been accused of “pedophilia” — it is more a case of ephebophilia, the distinction being that pedophiles are attracted to prepubescent children, whereas Foley seems to have been flirting with 16- or 17 year-olds who are smart enough to be Congressional pages.

    Jerry:

    Good point. We changed the headline. Thanks for the heads up.

  17. dave  October 2, 2006 at 2:43 pm

    So, the Party of Traditional Family Values is harboring pederasts, and it’s officials are hiding the facts and protecting the pervs? Father Mark and Biship Newt?

    I don’t know about GOP families, but in my family, it’s NOT part of our values to let Uncle Mark pork our teenage sons. Crikey! What the hell kind of family traditons do those Republicans have anyway?

  18. dave  October 2, 2006 at 2:44 pm

    So, the Party of Traditional Family Values is harboring pederasts, and it’s officials are hiding the facts and protecting the pervs? Father Mark and Biship Newt?

    I don’t know about GOP families, but in my family, it’s NOT part of our values to let Uncle Mark pork our teenage sons. Crikey! What the hell kind of family traditons do those Republicans have anyway?

  19. Lamb  October 2, 2006 at 3:01 pm

    wow…of course this whole thing makes me sick..sick and tired of Republican’s preaching morality and doing the opposite..but I had to write and say how impressed I was to see the Editor listen to what Jerry wrote. If only the major news organizations were willing to be this accurate and listen. I am very impressed!

  20. Dan  October 2, 2006 at 3:58 pm

    Welcome to the Modern G.O.P. It’s okay to for a Senator to (attempt to) have gay relations with a male paige, just as long as he doesn’t try to marry the lad. That would be crossing the line.

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