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Published: Tuesday, 10/3/2006

Foley claims he was abused by a clergyman as a teen

Former Rep. Mark Foley Former Rep. Mark Foley
BEN SMIDT / AP Enlarge

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. Disgraced former Rep. Mark Foley said through his lawyer this evening that he was abused by a clergyman as a teenager, but accepts full responsibility for sending salacious computer messages to teenage male pages.

Attorney David Roth 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.

He 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 told reporters in Florida as Republicans struggled to avoid election-year fallout from the congressman's behavior and sudden resignation.

Foley represented the West Palm Beach district for 12 years until he abruptly resigned last week after being accused of sending lurid Internet messages to teenage boys who served as pages on Capitol Hill. The FBI and Florida law enforcement officials are investigating whether he violated any laws.

The lawyer said Foley, who is now in treatment for alcohol abuse, never had any inappropriate sexual contact with a minor. He said Foley was under the influence of alcohol when he sent many of the e-mails and instant messages.

Read more in later editions of The Blade and toledoblade.com.

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