House ethics committee Chairman Louis Stokes (D-Ohio) said yesterday his committee will continue its investigation into allegations of improper sexual conduct and drug use on Capitol Hill despite former page Leroy Williams' acknowlegement that his charges of sexual misconduct were lies.
Williams, 18, spent 3 1/2 hours behind closed doors yesterday answering questions from Stokes, chairman of the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, and Joseph A. Califano Jr., who is serving as special counsel in charge of the panel's investigation.
During that session Williams reaffirmed under oath what he said publicly Friday: that he never had sexual relations with any member of Congress and that all his allegations about improper sexual activities on Capitol Hill were lies.
After the meeting, Stokes read a brief statement saying Williams' allegations were only a part of the investigation. "The committee's investigation will continue both in the area of improper or illegal sexual conduct and the illicit use or distribution of drugs under House resolution 518," Stokes said.
At least two other former pages also have made allegations about sexual misconduct. The Justice Department began an investigation into the charges but is winding down its inquiry because of lack of evidence to substantiate any of the allegations. A Justice inquiry into the drug allegations is continuing.
Williams, whose allegations drew wide public attention earlier this year, said Friday at a news conference in his home town of Little Rock that he had lied and that he had concocted the tale to draw attention to what he considered abuses in the congressional page system.
Williams' lawyer, Robert Scott, told reporters in Washington yesterday that Williams was "exhausted" and would have no further comments.
Scott emphasized that Williams had not been coerced into making a confession nor had a deal been made for immunity from prosecution. He said Williams was "much relieved now that the fraud was out in the open."
He said he hoped Williams could return to Little Rock, finish school and "rebuild his life." He said Williams, who was arrested last week in Little Rock and charged with public intoxication, had been seeing a psychiatrist for about a month because of an "inherent conflict in his religion and his homosexual experience."
As for himself, Scott said he had a "bad feeling" because he had been unable to detect that his client had lied.
Williams was questioned under tight security after arriving in Washington early yesterday. The proceedings were described by Scott as "not heated, calm, very professional." Scott said yesterday was the first time Williams had been placed under oath.
Williams first made his allegations in July, saying that he had had sexual relations with three members of Congress and that he had procured male prostitutes and arranged homosexual liaisons for others. In the weeks that followed, he failed an FBI lie-detector test and admitted that he had exaggerated parts of his story.
But until Friday, he had stood by his allegations, including assertions that he knew of other sexual encounters between pages and congressmen.
A house commission established because of the sexual allegations recommended last week that the minimum age for pages be raised to 16, that pages live in a dormitory rather than where they please and that they be subject to a code of conduct.