10/04/2006 at 09:00 AM EDT
Disgraced former Florida Rep. Mark Foley, currently in rehab
for alcohol abuse and mental illness, issued a series of revelations through his attorney on Tuesday.
Foley, 52, who is under investigation for sending lurid Internet messages to underage male Capitol Hill pages, said that when he was between 13 and 15 he was sexually abused by a clergyman, according to David Roth, speaking on Foley's behalf at a news conference, the Associated Press reports.
Foley, who is a Roman Catholic, did not specify the clergyman or the church.
"Mark does not blame the trauma he sustained as a young adolescent for his totally inappropriate" e-mails and instant messages, Roth said. "He continues to offer no excuse whatsoever for his conduct."
Roth said that as part of his client's recovery he was obliged to say, "Mark Foley wants you to know he is a gay man." Roth also said the former congressman denies having inappropriate sexual contact with minors and says he was under the influence of alcohol at the time he sent the notes.
Asked why Foley didn't own up to the messages sooner, Roth responded, "Shame, shame. … As is so often the case with victims of abuse, Mark advises that he kept his shame to himself for almost 40 years."
Roth continued, "There was absolutely no inappropriate sexual contact with any minor ... and any suggestion that Mark Foley is a pedophile is false."
President Bush, campaigning for Republican lawmakers in California, said Tuesday he was disgusted by Foley's actions. "This investigation should be thorough and any violation of the law should be prosecuted," Bush said while speaking at a Stockton, Calif., elementary school, the AP reports.
The House ethics committee has scheduled its first meeting on Foley's actions for Thursday.