First it was alcoholism. Now disgraced former Rep. Mark Foley claims a pedophile priest is responsible for his problems.
Foley, who resigned amid disclosures of his inappropriate behavior with young male pages on Capitol Hill, now says a priest molested him when he was a young man.
The Associated Press reports:
Attorney David Roth, speaking on Foley’s behalf at a Florida news conference Tuesday, said Foley was molested between ages 13 and 15 by a clergyman. He declined to identify the clergyman or the church, but Foley is Roman Catholic.
"Mark does not blame the trauma he sustained as a young adolescent for his totally inappropriate" e-mails and instant messages, Roth said. "He continues to offer no excuse whatsoever for his conduct."
Roth, who spoke for Foley while the congressman is in rehab for alcohol abuse and mental illness, said Foley denied having inappropriate sexual contact with minors and said he was under the influence of alcohol when he wrote the notes.
Asked why he didn’t disclose this information sooner, Roth said, "Shame, shame."
"As is so often the case with victims of abuse, Mark advises that he kept his shame to himself for almost 40 years," Roth said.
"There was absolutely no inappropriate sexual contact with any minor… and any suggestion that Mark Foley is a pedophile is false," Roth said.
Roth also acknowledged for the first time that the former congressman is gay, saying the disclosure was part of his client’s "recovery."
"Mark Foley wants you to know he is a gay man," Roth said.
Foley, who is 52 and single, represented parts of Palm Beach County for 12 years until he abruptly resigned Friday. The FBI and Florida law enforcement officials are investigating whether he violated any laws.
The lurid communications were first reported last week by ABC News, which released more instant messages Tuesday that indicate Foley allegedly interrupted a vote on the House floor to chat online with a teen.
"I miss you," Foley said in one message, according to ABC.
"ya me too," the teen replied.
"we are still voting," Foley responded.
Roth said Foley was never under the influence of alcohol while conducting business on Capitol Hill. He could not explain his previous comments that Foley was intoxicated at the time he sent all the messages.
The race Foley abandoned is suddenly receiving national attention as Democrats seek to win 15 Republican seats to regain power in the House. Foley was considered a shoo-in for re-election. Tim Mahoney, the Democratic candidate for the seat, said the only thing that has changed since Foley’s resignation is that he is now receiving national media attention.
Mahoney declined to comment Tuesday on the latest revelations.
Florida’s Republican Party leaders on Monday selected state Rep. Joe Negron to replace Foley as their candidate in the Nov. 7 general election, but under state law, Foley’s name cannot be removed from the ballot even though he has withdrawn. Votes for Foley will be tallied for Negron.
At the Capitol, House Speaker Dennis Hastert cast aside calls for his resignation Tuesday amid talk from Democrats that Republicans knew of Foley’s questionable communications months ago but failed to act.
President Bush, speaking at a Stockton, Calif., elementary school, on Tuesday said he was disgusted by Foley’s actions. The House ethics committee scheduled its first meeting on Foley’s actions for Thursday.