| Palm Beach Diocese
Wants Foley to Name His Abuser
Ex-Lawmaker Says Clergyman Molested Him
By Matthew Doig, Heather Allen and Michael A. Scarcella
[Sarasota FL] Herald-Tribune
October 7, 2006
The Catholic Diocese of Palm Beach publicly called Friday on former congressman Mark Foley to name his alleged abuser and end speculation about the identity of the clergyman he said abused him as a youth.
Foley's attorney, David Roth, announced Tuesday that Foley had been molested by a clergyman when he was 13 to 15 years old. He refused to elaborate.
Diocese spokeswoman Alexis Walkenstein told the Herald-Tribune that conducting an inquiry without a name from Foley would amount to a "witch hunt."
Walkenstein said the church had no plans to start its own investigation and was adamant that her organization had no responsibility to review its records and determine the credibility of Foley's claim.
A spokeswoman with the Archdiocese of Miami, which had jurisdiction over Lake Worth when Foley was growing up there in the 1960s, also said Friday there were no plans to review records they keep on priests accused of abuse unless Foley offered a name.
The situation would be handled differently if the accusation had been against a public school teacher, according to Ron Stowers, an attorney for the state Department of Education.
Stowers said his office, which reviews dozens of cases of alleged sexual abuse every year, would launch an investigation even in reaction to vague allegations like the ones leveled by Foley.
He said DOE investigators would contact school officials, law enforcement and the Department of Children & Families and try to identify the abuser.
Meanwhile, Walkenstein said even a cursory inquiry into Foley's claims would be "impossible" without more information.
Given the information Foley has provided, church officials could review priests Foley had contact with in Lake Worth, where he was an altar boy at Sacred Heart Catholic Church and attended a Catholic high school.
Foley attended the church while aged 13 to 15 and was at Cardinal Newman High School for one year during that time.
At least two Catholic priests who were later accused of abusing children worked at the school or churches in the area during the same period.
According to a database of accused priests compiled by bishopaccountability.org, Reverend Raymond Prybis was at Cardinal Newman between 1968 and 1974. Foley attended the school during the 1969-70 school year, a yearbook from the school shows. [See BishopAccountability.org's detailed assignment record on Prybis.]
The Boston Globe reported in 2003 that Prybis, while a priest in Boston in the 1980s, stripped naked and asked a 14- or 15-year-old boy to beat him with a belt. Church records posted on bishopaccountability.org show that the boy told his parents, who then confronted church officials. The records show that officials promised to get Prybis counseling. [See the church records: Mulkerrin's 9/2/92 notes and her 9/4/92 memo to McCormack.]
Questions about Prybis were referred to the Washington, D.C., law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld. But an attorney there, Heather Pellegrino, would not answer questions.
The other accused priest in Foley's area, Rocco D'Angelo, allegedly raped an 11-year-old altar boy in Boynton Beach. The Miami Herald reported in 2002 that D'Angelo, who is now dead, raped at least 12 boys during more than 30 years as a priest in Florida.
Foley, 52, resigned from Congress last week after ABC News disclosed lewd e-mails that he'd sent to teenage boys who had served as congressional pages. Foley has since checked into an alcohol rehabilitation facility.
Even if Foley did not violate federal laws by exchanging sexually explicit Internet communications with underage boys, he still could find himself charged under state statutes. Federal law generally requires a person to meet, or attempt to meet, a minor for sex before a crime has been committed. But in some states where the Florida Republican communicated with children, attempting to seduce a minor might be enough to bring charges.
Federal prosecutors investigating Foley are examining whether Florida authorities might be better positioned to seek charges against him, according to a senior Justice Department official who spoke Friday on condition of anonymity.
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