Congressional Pages Can Be Vulnerable (History)

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Before the Internet came along, vodka with cranberry juice and a bet over a six-pack of beer were tools of seduction in the hands of House members with designs on congressional pages....

In 1983, an investigation into dozens of reports of sexual misconduct between House members and pages noted the more permissive nature of society at the time, with the age of consent dropping, sexual mores relaxing and people appreciating ''an increasing recognition of the frailty of human nature.''

Even so, the inquiry stated in so many words: Hands off....

The 1983 inquiry uncovered repeated trysts with pages on the part of Reps. Daniel B. Crane and Gerry Studds, as well as one senior House employee.

These liaisons were consensual in ways that Foley's come-ons apparently were not -- one page described Foley repeatedly as ''sick, sick, sick.''

The consensual nature of Crane's encounters with a page girl and Studds' encounters with a page boy were considered no defense at the time. Not when powerful men in their 30s and 40s and teenagers of 17 or younger were involved.

The page girl told investigators that in the winter of 1980, when she was 17, she made a friendly bet over a basketball game with the 44-year-old congressman for a six pack and, when she lost, took the Heineken to his office.

They ended up in his apartment for the first of at least several sexual episodes over the course of a succession of Thursdays. ''It was my decision just as much as it was his,'' she stated.

The Republican congressman from Illinois was censured by the House and lost his seat in the 1984 election.

The page boy seduced by Studds, D-Mass., said the congressman invited him to his Georgetown home for dinner, and they talked until 4 a.m., drinking vodka and cranberry juice. ''I was told by the congressman that he was too drunk to give me a ride home and so he said, 'Why don't you sleep here?' and I did.''

Thus began a sexual relationship that continued over more dinners and a trip together to Europe.

''I was flattered and excited,'' the page testified. ''If I could have had my druthers, I would have had the friendship that I had with the man without the sex.''

He said ''I was somewhat uncomfortable'' with the sex but ''I did not think it was that big a deal.''

Studds was 36; the page was either 16 or 17 when they first had sex. Studds also was censured but his political career survived until his retirement in the mid-1990s.

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