More than two years ago, former Congressman Tom Foley garnered public attention when sexually explicit internet conversations between Foley and former Capital Hill pages surfaced. Those pages were juveniles and the publicity resulted in his resignation from Congress.
Foley granted his first interview about the matter, and at times does a nice job taking responsibility for his behavior. For instance,
“I’m the adult here, I’m the congressman,” Foley said. “The fact is I allowed it to happen. That’s where my responsibility lies.”
“At the end of the day, they were instant messages that were extraordinarily inappropriate.”
But it is clear that Foley has some work to do. He continues to justify even while “accepting responsibility”.
These were 17-year-olds, just months from being men, he insists.
“There was never anywhere in those conversations where someone said, ‘Stop,’ or ‘I’m not enjoying this,’ or ‘This is inappropriate'”
“The work I was doing was involving young children … You know, you hear the term ‘pedophile.’ That is prepubescent,” Foley said, noting a “huge difference” from lurid chats with teens on the brink of adulthood.
Foley also described the impact of the abuse he experienced at the hands of a priest when Foley was 12.
“I loved my early life, and then along comes a priest … who forces me into a sexual relationship at the age of 12. And right shortly thereafter, I fail eighth grade, I start drugs, I start drinking, I start smoking,” he said. “My entire life … implodes.”
Foley has had “treatment”, which I suspect is for his substance abuse. The article is unclear about the nature of that treatment.
For me, this is not about homosexuality, alcoholism, or a history of abuse. Those certainly contribute to mistakes people can make. Rather, this for me today is about the dramatic impact a decision can make on the entire life of an individual. I recently watched the movie Atonement, which has the same theme.
There are ways through and out of this. Repentance and forgiveness often get a bad name because it seems to many that it excuses the behavior. For me, they permit me to not be defined by my mistakes, no matter how large they are.
Mr. Foley has a way to go.