Disgraced former congressman Foley to tell church name of alleged abuser, lawyer says

Wednesday, October 18th 2006, 5:57 am
By: News On 6

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) Mark Foley plans to reveal the name of a clergyman he says abused him as a teenager, a move his attorney said would deflate claims the former congressman fabricated the allegations as an excuse for sending sexually explicit e-mails to teenage pages.

Gerald Richman, Foley's civil attorney, said Tuesday that Foley has been ``keeping this deep dark secret inside of him for many years.''

``He's dealing with this issue, but it's going to take a lot of time.''

Foley, 52, a Florida Republican, resigned last month after he was confronted with the e-mails. He has not been charged with a crime.

Some have charged that Foley made up the allegations as an excuse or to elicit public sympathy.

Richman said Foley has not told him the name of the clergyman but has told another attorney. He said the clergyman is still alive.

Foley has been in seclusion at an alcohol rehabilitation facility at an undisclosed location.

A spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Miami urged Foley to identify his accuser so the healing process can begin. Without the name of the priest, Archdiocese spokeswoman Mary Ross Agosta said, there is little the church can do.

``He's coming forward in baby steps and there's nothing much we can do until we have it clearly identified,'' Agosta said.

The state attorney's office in West Palm Beach informed Foley's attorney that criminal charges cannot be filed because the statute of limitations on the sexual assault expired long ago.

``We're talking about issues that happened 36 to 38 years ago,'' Richman said. ``This is all part of the healing process for Mark Foley. He thinks it's important to go ahead and bring this information out and hope and encourage other people who have been similarly abused to go ahead and come forward.''

Foley's abrupt departure has shaken Republican confidence, and poll numbers, little more than a month before elections. The party's control of the House will be tested.

Foley's departure also has thrown the spotlight on Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert because of conflicting claims about what senior lawmakers knew and when.

Before the scandal, Foley was a popular incumbent who was expected to easily defeat Democrat Tim Mahoney. Now Mahoney is the favorite in the race.

Foley's name will remain on the ballot, but votes for him will count for state Rep. Joe Negron.