Ex-page says he, Foley had sex

Man says encounter in fall 2000 occurred after he left program and when he was 21

October 08, 2006|By Wally Roche | Wally Roche,Los Angeles Times

A former House page says he had sex with then-Rep. Mark A. Foley after receiving explicit e-mails in which the Florida congressman described assessing the sexual orientation and physical attributes of underage pages but waiting until later to make direct advances.

The former page, who agreed to discuss his relationship with Foley with the Los Angeles Times on the condition that he not be identified, said his electronic correspondence with Foley began after he finished the respected Capitol Hill program for high school juniors. His sexual encounter in the fall of 2000 also came after he left the page program. At the time, he was 21 and a graduate of a rural Northeastern college.

"I always knew you were a player but I don't fool around with pages," declared one instant message from Maf54, a screen name used by Foley in exchanges that have become public involving a number of male former pages.

The former page's account is consistent with Foley's assertion that he did not have sexual relations with minors, a question that will be key to determining whether he committed criminal acts. Although the legal age of consent varies from state to state, in the District of Columbia, where the pages live in supervised dormitories, it is 16 years old.

Yet the former page's exchanges with Foley offer a disturbing glimpse of possible predatory behavior by the Republican congressman as he assessed male teenagers assigned as House errand runners.

In the messages, Maf54 described how years earlier, when the young man was a page, he had ogled the teen while the page was working near the congressman. Maf54 also offers speculation and observations about the sexual attributes of other males who were in the same page class.

Foley abruptly resigned his House seat Sept. 29 after disclosure of sexually oriented e-mails to a former page. Other e-mails were subsequently divulged, and questions concerning how much House Republican leaders knew about Foley and his interest in pages are being investigated by the House ethics committee.

The New York Times reported today that Kirk Fordham, a former senior Foley aide, expects to testify before the committee this week that he alerted the speaker's office as early as 2003 to Foley's inappropriate contact with pages, Fordham's lawyer said yesterday. Fordham will also tell the panel that Scott Palmer, the longtime chief of staff to Speaker Dennis Hastert, later met with Foley about the matter, the lawyer said. The speaker's office has said it had no inkling of Foley's contact with pages until the family of a former page in Louisiana complained in the fall of 2005.

Foley is in seclusion in an alcoholism-treatment facility, and his lawyer has declined to answer questions about specific pages.

The FBI has begun contacting former pages.

The former page interviewed by the Los Angeles Times said he has not been contacted by either the FBI or the House Ethics Committee. He agreed to talk to the Times only if his identify is protected because of his fear that exposure could hurt future job prospects.

The Times found the former page after others identified him as someone whose contacts with Foley went beyond graphic instant message exchanges. At an interview, the former page brought with him a computer storing his saved communications with Foley and allowed a Times reporter to review them. The young man, who now manages a suburban office of a national franchise, says he is gay and had only one sexual encounter with Foley before the contacts abruptly ended. The Times also agreed not to publish the year of his page class to protect his identity

While serving as a page, the young man said that he and his fellow pages gossiped frequently about Foley's overly friendly behavior but did not complain about him to program supervisors or other members of Congress.

After leaving the page program, the former page began receiving messages from Foley that quickly became provocative.

Ultimately, the young man said he had a sexual encounter with Foley at the congressman's Washington home. Then 21, he was in Washington as an intern in an unrelated program. The former page, who served during Foley's first term in office, said that he believes Foley became bolder in his behavior during his decade in Congress.

"He clearly has used his position, but who hasn't?" the former page said.

Wally Roche writes for the Los Angeles Times.

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