Sarasota Herald-Tribune

Priest tells of Foley relationship

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.

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.”

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