Rep. Gerry E. Studds (D-Mass.), who last week admitted having sex with a 17-year-old male page in 1973, yesterday expressed "profound personal thanks" to those who have supported him over the past few days, but refused to discuss an upcoming House debate on how he should be punished.
"Ultimately . . . my record in its entirety is a matter that will be judged by the people of my district," Studds said in a two-paragraph statement he read outside the Capitol Building yesterday. He declined to answer questions.
It was the first public comment he has made since giving a speech on the House floor last week acknowledging his homosexuality and saying he would not contest a recommendation of the House ethics committee that he be reprimanded.
Rep. Daniel B. Crane (R-Ill.), who has admitted having sex with a 17-year-old female page in 1980, was back at work yesterday but would not make any public statements on the matter, a spokesman said. Saturday, Crane made a tearful apology to his constituents in a statement in his district.
Both Studds and Crane have said they will not resign.
The House ethics committee has recommended that both congressmen receive a reprimand, the most lenient form of punishment against a member for misconduct. Harsher actions would include censure and expulsion. A debate and vote on the committee recommendation is scheduled on the House floor today.
A Republican colleague of Crane's in the Illinois delegation, Rep. George M. O'Brien, yesterday added his voice to those who have argued that a reprimand is not strong enough punishment, but he stopped short of calling for expulsion.
"Members of the House of Representatives have a parental responsibility for the high school youth who serve as pages," O'Brien said in a statement. "The actions admitted by Congressmen Gerry Studds and Daniel Crane are an affront to the integrity of Congress."
Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) said on Monday he would ask that the reprimand recommendation be rejected as too lenient and said he would move for expulsion of Studds and Crane in September.
The Charleston Times-Courier newspaper in Crane's district in Illinois has reported that Crane was asked at a town hearing a year ago about rumors of a congressional sex scandal. Reports at that time centered on a page's public allegations that members had engaged in homosexual activity with pages. Those claims were proved to be without foundation, but they sparked the broader investigation that led to the findings involving Studds and Crane.
"I hope investigators use discretion and if they can prove it, I hope they sock it to them and throw them out," Crane was quoted as saying.
House Speaker Thomas P. (Tip) O'Neill Jr. (D-Mass.) told reporters that he would not try to influence other members on their vote on the reprimand and that no poll had been taken of Democrats on the matter.
"Each man will vote his own conscience," O'Neill said.
Studds said in his statement yesterday that "this is now a matter to be dealt with by the House. It would be inappropriate for me to make any further comment at this time." In thanking his supporters, he said: "I regret very much that they have been subjected, because of my own very serious error in judgment, to an ordeal of this kind, and I look forward to concentrating all my energies once again on the job that my constituents expect me--and elected me--to do."