The House ethics committee recommended yesterday an official reprimand of Reps. Daniel B. Crane (R-Ill.) and Gerry E. Studds (D-Mass.) for sexual misconduct, saying Crane had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old female House page in 1980 and Studds with a 16- or 17-year-old male page in 1973.
Crane, 47, a three-term congressman from Danville, Ill., acknowledged to committee investigators that he had the relationship with the girl in the spring of 1980.
Studds, 46, a six-term congressman from Cohasset, Mass., was accompanied by the young man with whom he had the relationship on a 2 1/2-week trip to Europe during the House's 1973 August recess, according to the committee. Responding on the House floor yesterday to the committee's findings, Studds stated publicly that he is a homosexual.
The committee voted 11 to 1 in secret balloting to recommend the reprimand, the mildest form of punishment for dealing with serious misconduct by House members. Neither congressman would lose any seniority or committee assignments. Speaker of the House Thomas P. (Tip) O'Neill said he believed the committee's recommendations were "necessary." No date was set for consideration of the recommendation by the full House.
The committee's investigation was touched off a year ago by the allegations by a former congressional page, Leroy Williams, of alleged homosexual misconduct involving House members and pages during 1981 and 1982. Williams later confessed that he had made up his story, but further investigation of clues dating back 10 years turned up evidence of misconduct by Crane and Studds.
"The evidence obtained indicates that these were isolated instances, not typical of members of the House of Representatives or its employes," said Joseph A. Califano Jr., special counsel to the committee's investigation, in releasing a final report on alleged sexual misconduct yesterday.
". . . I believe it is clear that the House of Representatives as an institution has been vindicated by this investigation," Califano said.
Califano's investigation also found that James Howarth, the former majority chief page in the House Doorkeeper's Office who until last December supervised the pages, engaged in a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old female page in 1980.
Howarth may have purchased cocaine in the House Democratic cloakroom in 1980 from Robert T. Yesh, a former employe in the doorkeeper's office, Califano told reporters. Yesh pleaded guilty in March to two misdemeanor drug charges and was sentenced in April to one year in prison.
Califano said his staff is still preparing a final report on allegations of widespread drug use on Capitol Hill.
Crane is the brother of Rep. Philip M. Crane (R-Ill.), a Republican candidate for president in 1980. Daniel Crane has acknowledged under oath the allegations brought against him, and issued a statement yesterday apologizing for his actions.
"I'm sorry that I made a mistake," said Crane, a member of the Armed Services and Post Office Committees. "It happened three years ago. I'm human, and in no way did I violate my oath of office. I only hope my wife and childen will forgive me."
In a statement issued by Studds' office, the Massachusetts Democrat, a member of the Foreign Affairs and Merchant Marine and Fisheries committees, said he would not dispute the committee's findings. But he noted that his relationship with a male page was "mutual and voluntary" and did not involve special favors.
"It is not a simple task for any of us to meet adequately the obligations of either public or private life, let alone both," Studds said. "But these challenges are made substantially more complex when one is, as am I, both an elected public official and gay."
Howarth, who could not be reached for comment yesterday, has worked in the doorkeeper's office for about six years, according to a spokeswoman. He was relieved of responsibility for supervising pages last December and transferred to the documents room after the special counsel's investigators began asking questions about him.
Califano released his long final report on sexual misconduct at a press conference with Rep. Louis Stokes (D-Ohio), chairman of the ethics committee, and Rep. Floyd B. Spence (R-S.C.), the ranking minority member.
Califano said he advised the committee against seeking to censure or expel the two members primarily because "there was no coercion in either of these cases."
The latest congressmen to be reprimanded by the House were Rep. Edward Roybal (D-Calif.) and former representatives John McFall (D-Calif.) and Charles H. Wilson (D-Calif.) in October 1978.
McFall and Royball were were cited for official misconduct involving cash contributions they received from Korean lobbyist Tongsun Park. Wilson was cited for wedding gifts, including $600 in cash, that he and his wife received from Park.
The latest member of the House to be censured was former representative Charles C. Diggs Jr. (D-Mich.), who was convicted of mail fraud and filing false pay vouchers.
Former representative Michael J. (Ozzie) Myers (D-Pa.) was expelled from the House in October 1980 after his conviction in Abscam.
In recommending reprimands, the committee stated that a sexual relationship between a House member and a page, or even a mere sexual advance by a member, "represents a serious breach of the duty owed by the House and its individual members to the young people who serve the House as pages."
The committee decided to withhold the names of the pages involved to protect their reputations.
In the case of Crane, the female page told investigators she met him through a male page she once dated. The page testified she carried a six-pack of Heineken beer to Crane's office one spring evening in 1980, to pay off a friendly wager. Later, they went to his apartment and slept together.
The page said she had sex with Crane on three or four other occasions. "It was my decision just as much as it was his," she testified.
Crane's press secretary, William Mencarow, said, "If they required the resignation of all congressmen who have slept with young ladies you wouldn't have a Congress."
Investigators came across widespread rumors, both in the press and among former pages, about Studds' homosexual activities. A male page testified he visited Studds' apartment at the congressman's invitation and had sex with him on at least three or four occasions in 1973.
Studds invited the page to travel abroad with him during the August recess and the page agreed. According to the page's testimony, they engaged in sexual activity every two or three days during the trip.
The page said that he had been "flattered and excited" by the attention that Studds paid him, and never felt intimidated.
"Gerry Studds was an intelligent, witty, gentle man with I think a high level of insecurity," the page testified. "He did nothing to me which I would consider destructive or painful. In another time, in another society, the action would be acceptable perhaps even laudable."
Two other former pages, both male, have stated under oath that Studds made sexual advances to them in 1973.
Washington Post staff writers Joe Pichirallo, Tom Sherwood and Sandra Evans Teeley contributed to this article.