Column # 1,310
Red Flags of a Pedophile
by Michael J. McManus
What did the Republican leadership know about
Rep. Mark Foley's inappropriate relationship with teenage pages? When did they
know it, and what did they do about it?
House Speaker Dennis Hastert claimed he didn't know about the sexually
explicit e-mails published in recent days until last Friday. A year ago he saw
a chatty e-mail from Foley to a 16 year-old page in which the Congressman
requested a photograph of the boy. That caused the boy's parents to complain;
however, it did not contain sexually explicit material.
Hastert turned the matter over to Rep. John Shimkus, R-IL, who chairs a
three-person committee overseeing the pages. Shimkus did not tell the Democratic
Congressman on the committee about Foley's e-mail, but did warn Foley to stop
contacting the former page.
The fact that neither Hastert nor Shimkus told the Democrat on the
committee suggests they were protecting a Republican seat. What 52 year-old man
asks a 16 year-old for a photograph? That was one red flag that should have
prompted Hastert to investigate.
Another red flag is that many knew Foley spent an inordinate amount of
time with pages. He was one of the few Members of Congress who took pains to
learn the names of 16 and 17 year-old aides, chatted regularly with them,
sending hand-written notes and asking them to keep in touch when they returned
"If a Congressman was talking to you, it was the best thing in the
world," said Patrick McDonald, 21, a senior at Ohio State. "And he made himself
known to pages in the first couple of weeks, befriending us, asking us how we
were doing. He was willing to chill out with us."
The question is why? Pedophiles befriend vulnerable young people so they
can be in a position later to lure them sexually.
A third red flag is that the unmarried Congressman was widely known to be
gay. A recent study published in "Demography" estimates that the number of
exclusive male homosexuals in the general population is 2.5 percent. What is
less well known is that gays are responsible for 32 percent of sexual offenses
against children according to many studies such as one in the Fall 1984 "Journal
of Sex and Marital Therapy."
Finally, The Washington Post reports that "In 1995, male House pages were
warned to steer clear of a freshman Republican from Florida, who was already
learning the names of the teenagers, dashing off notes, letters and e-mails to
them, and asking them to join him for ice cream," according to a former page.
Staff overseeing the pages in 2001 gave them a similar warning.
Given these danger signals and history, what should Speaker Hastert have
He or his staff could have met with other pages to see if they received
any inappropriate e-mails or contact with Foley. They might have surveyed pages
who had served in recent years. They could have asked the FBI to examine
Foley's computers, to read his correspondence with other pages.
What they would have found are scores of inappropriate, sexually explicit
e-mails. ABC, which broke the story, cites 52 of them. See ABCNews.com for
examples. One e-mail asked the page details about how he masturbated. Another
invited a page to "have a few drinks" with him, saying "We may need to drink at
my house so we don't get busted."
Ironically, Foley served as Co-Chair of the Congressional Missing and
Exploited Children's Caucus which fought for the Adam Walsh Child Protection and
Safety Act signed last year. As Foley told reporters, "We track library books
better than we do sex offenders."
What a great cover for his own sexual aberrations. There's no evidence
yet he molested pages. David Roth, his lawyer, denies he did so. Roth notes that
he is an alcoholic who was intoxicated when he sent lewd messages to former
pages, and had been molested as a child himself by a clergyman.
If the FBI finds an e-mail in which Foley asked a minor to have sex,
which is likely, that is a prosecutable crime, according to Pat Trueman, former
Chief of the Justice Department's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section.
The conservative Washington Times urged Hastert to resign at once:
"Either he was grossly negligent for not taking the red flags fully into account
and ordering a swift investigation... or he deliberately looked the other way in
hopes that a brewing scandal would simply blow away."
If Republicans want to attract pro-family voters, they must clean house.
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