A priest has confessed to molesting former Congressman Mark Foley.
A Catholic priest told the Herald-Tribune on Wednesday about an intimate two-year relationship he had with former U.S. Rep. Mark Foley when the congressman was a teenage altar boy living in Lake Worth.I agree with Bob at the Daily Pulp, what Fr. Mercieca says is very creepy. This Sarasota Herald-Tribune article puts to rest whether the abuse allegation made two weeks ago by Foley's lawyer was true or false. I thought it was hogwash and now have to admit now that I was wrong.
From his home on the island of Gozo, near Italy, Anthony Mercieca described a series of encounters that he said Foley might perceive as sexually inappropriate.
Among them: massaging Foley while the boy was naked, skinny-dipping together at a secluded lake in Lake Worth and being naked in the same room on overnight trips.
One night, when Mercieca says he was in a drug-induced stupor, there was an incident he says he can't clearly remember that might have gone too far.
"I have to confess, I was going through a nervous breakdown," he said. "I was taking pills -- tranquilizers. I used to take them all the time. They affected my mind a little bit."
Mercieca's description of his relationship with Foley is similar to details provided to the Herald-Tribune by sources close to Foley's family.
Those sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Mercieca is the priest Foley has claimed sexually abused him.
They say Foley and Mercieca had only one sexual encounter that took place when Foley was 12 or 13.
Foley resigned from Congress last month after his suggestive e-mails to young male pages surfaced. Soon after, he said he was an alcoholic and claimed to have been molested as a boy by a "clergyman."
Tuesday, Foley's civil lawyer, Gerald Richman, told reporters the alleged abuser was a Catholic priest whose name he planned to share with the church as soon as Wednesday. He and Foley attorney David Roth refused further comment.
According to the sources who did not want to be identified, Foley and his family have discussed Mercieca several times during the past three or four years, but his mother refused to believe that the priest was capable of abusing her son.
Foley's father, a stoic ex-Marine, refused to even acknowledge the conversation.
The incident took place about 40 years ago when Foley was an altar boy at Sacred Heart Catholic Church and attended the parish school. Mercieca served as a priest there at the time, in 1966 and 1967, and their encounter occurred during an overnight trip. Specific details and the exact time frame of the trip are not known.
The Foleys were active members of the congregation. His mother often fed the priests and had them over to their house for dinner.
Mercieca, 72, told the Herald-Tribune he and Foley became fast friends when Mercieca moved from Brazil to Florida in 1966 and "loved each other like brothers."
Mercieca said he taught Foley "some wrong things" related to sex, though he wouldn't specify what he meant. He also said they were naked together in a sauna twice.
Mercieca said that, at the time, he considered his relationship with Foley innocent. But he now says he could see how his actions could be labeled inappropriate.
Mercieca was adamant that his encounter with Foley was an aberration, and that the Catholic Church never had to send him for counseling during his 38 years in the priesthood in Florida.
"I have been in many parishes, and I have never been" accused, he said.
Mercieca said although Foley plans to "expose him to the world," he still has "great memories of our trips."
"I wish him well," Mercieca said. "Let bygones be bygones."
Foley does deserve sympathy for what happened to him, but not a bit of sympathy for what he did to any house pages.
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