Victim Advocates, Fla. Diocese Urge Foley to Name Alleged Abuser
Saturday, October 7, 2006
The Roman Catholic diocese of Palm Beach, Fla., and national advocacy groups for victims of sexual abuse called yesterday for former representative Mark Foley (R-Fla.) to give police the name of the clergyman who allegedly abused him as a teenager.
"He should absolutely report the perpetrator, living or dead," said David Clohessy, national director of the 7,000-member Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests. "He should do it now, not when his civil lawyer says it is convenient. Every day that a molester walks free is a day when he can hurt other kids."
Foley's attorney, David Roth, told reporters Tuesday that the former congressman, who was raised as a Catholic, was molested by a clergyman when he was 13 to 15 years old. But Roth did not name the clergyman, and Palm Beach police said they have not received any report of the abuse.
Alexis Walkenstein, a spokeswoman for the Palm Beach diocese, said Foley has not reported the abuse to local Catholic Church officials, either.
"It would be inappropriate to comment, because at this time we've only heard a vague allegation. If Mr. Foley was abused within the Catholic Church, we would encourage him to report it to law enforcement," she said.
Foley, 52, abruptly resigned his House seat a week ago and checked into an alcohol treatment center after lewd electronic messages that he sent to teenage former congressional pages were made public.
Clohessy said Foley "has the same responsibility that every citizen has to report crimes." He said that police and prosecutors have become more aggressive and successful at prosecuting older cases of sexual abuse and that Foley is "in no position to determine whether prosecution is possible."
"Every single day, we tell victims: Tell the police, tell the police. Because every so often, someone provides that extra bit of information that allows a prosecutor to make a case," Clohessy said. "Even if the perpetrator is dead, those who enabled or covered up the crimes might be prosecuted."
William J. Brooks, a Palm Beach Town Council member who is a former Catholic priest and a friend of Foley's, said it was "outrageous" that Roth pinpointed the years of the abuse without naming the abuser. In 1969 and 1970, Foley attended Cardinal Newman High School, a parochial school where Brooks was on the faculty.
"Get the name out there and let the legal process unfold. And clear the names of the other clergy people back in the early 1970s," Brooks said.
Theresa LePore, the former Palm Beach County elections supervisor who designed the "butterfly ballot" that stirred national controversy in the 2000 presidential election, is now director of development at Cardinal Newman High. She was also a classmate of Foley's.
She said she does not remember him and never heard of any molestation cases when she was a student at the school, which at the time was run by a religious order, the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate.