Fifteen Eighty Four

Academic perspectives from Cambridge University Press


Former Rep. Mark Foley Off the Hook

Marci A. Hamilton

The AP reported Friday that former Congressman Mark Foley, who was accused in 2006 of sending sexually suggestive email messages to underage congressional pages will not be prosecuted in part because Florida’s statute of limitations on such crimes is a mere 3 years. The vast majority of child victims do not come forward at all, and the others rarely come forward before the statutes of limitations on sex crimes expire. This is another example of why the criminal (and civil) statutes of limitations on child sex crimes need to be eliminated.

‘WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Former U.S. Rep. Mark Foley won’t face state or federal criminal charges for allegedly sending salacious computer messages to underage male pages, in part because authorities couldn’t prove the authenticity of the chats, officials said Friday. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement also noted in an investigative report that too much time had passed since the February 2003 messages to bring any charges…

‘”There did not appear to be probable cause that a crime was committed,” the report said. Justice Department spokeswoman Laura Sweeney said Friday that prosecutors advised Foley’s attorney in July that the former congressman would not face any federal charges, either.

‘The Florida Republican resigned from Congress in 2006 after being confronted with illicit e-mails and instant messages he was purported to have sent to Capitol Hill pages, who are high school students who run errands for lawmakers and learn about Congress. Florida law enforcement had been investigating alleged electronic communication between Foley and an underage page, Jordan Edmund. The instant messages were purportedly sent in February 2003 from Pensacola. Authorities were investigating whether Foley broke the law by sending lewd or seductive messages to minors, or whether he tried to arrange a meeting for sex with a minor.

‘In addition to not being able to obtain the records, Florida authorities noted that a three-year statute of limitations on any potential crimes had expired in 2006. “However, it is important to note that even if the statute of limitations had not run, there would be no prosecutable case. There are no original records of the ‘instant messages’ received by Edmund,” the report said.’

For further background on this case, read my FindLaw column: Congressman Mark Foley’s Disgrace and Resignation: What Congress Should Have Learned – And Didn’t – From the Catholic Church Clergy Abuse Scandal

About The Author

Marci A. Hamilton

Marci A. Hamilton is author of God vs. the Gavel: The Perils of Extreme Religious Liberty (2007) and Justice Denied: What America Must Do To Protect Its Children (2008). She is one...

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