Say Rep. Foley was from Georgia

Let’s say Florida Congressman Mark Foley lived one state away in Georgia, where the age of consent is 16 years. And let’s say these pages were also residents of states where the age of consent was 16 (Alaska, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Maine, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, South Dakota).

Let’s also keep the fact that none of the three pages involved were under his employ at the time of his messaging.

And let’s say he e-mail them from his home to the pages’ homes (it appears the latter is true).

Would the Congressman have been guilty of anything?

(I know some of the response here will be “But he was from Florida, so what?” Well, there are plenty of threads here already about him being from Florida. What I’m trying to do is bring up a question of moral relativism.)

Quite possibly. It’s illegal, under Federal law, to solicit a minor for sex over the internet.

Also, isn’t there regulations to keep congressmen away pages?

The pages worked for Congress, and Mr. Foley was a congressman. Even though there was no chain-of-command link, Foley could have gotten any one of them fired. Sending sexually explicit emails and IMs to someone who works where you work is sexual harassment, clear and simple.

Does anyplace still prosecute for “corrupting the morals of a minor?” If so, it would appear that he’s nailed on that, no matter what the age of consent.

I haven’t looked that much into the facts, but every single case I’ve seen the feds or state’s prosecute have had the defendant travel to meet the minor, which the feds and Florida define IIRC as under 18, and I’m not sure that ever happened. There was one that indicated they might meet in San Diego, but I have no idea if that ever happened.

I’d be surprised if there was any prosecution for this.

What is a “minor”?

The ones he sent sexually explicit messages to: were they currently pages, or were they ex-pages? The information I’ve seen is that they were the latter.

In the U.S., a minor is anyone who has not reached the age of majority that is currently set at 18.

This age of majority, of course, does not universally affect all laws, so that the several states have widely differing ages for statutory rape, obtaining drver’s licenses, buying or consuming alcoholic beverages, etc.

To the narrow question “what is a minor?” the answer is anyone who has not yet attained their eighteenth birthday. (There are also provisions for identifying mentally disabled people, but I do not believe the word “minor” is used in that way.)

tomndebb, I just looked up the federal law, and it defines a “minor” as a person under 17.

According to this it’s anyone under 18.

The relevant part says:

The problem also arises in that it requires that the sexual act that is being “persuaded” must be a criminal violation too. I think that might depend on the location of the planned sexual encounter.

It’s still sexual harassment. The “pedophile” thing doesn’t wash, in my opinion, by the harassment sure does.

And that’s my point. For the federal law to activate, the sexual activity being solicited has to be illegal, and it would not be illegal in Georgia or several other states.

What was the reference? I’m not being snide. I am genuinely curious what law was written with the words “under 17.”

My apologies, I got my information from here, which does not give a specific jursidiction, and which I assumed was the federal law. Turns out it’s actually Texas state law.

It depends where he solicited the sexual activity to occur. If the minor was supposed to meet him for sex in DC and the minor was over 16, I don’t think it would be illegal. If the minor was supposed to meet him for sex in Florida and the minor was under the age of consent for Florida, then it would be illegal, and thus illegal for him to use the IMs to arrange such a “date”.

By all means if you have a point or question to raise, do so.

BTW, we don’t even have to move our hypothetical Congressman Foley to Georgia. The age of consent is 16 in the District of Columbia, too.

  1. Being a dirty old man.

  2. Sexual harassment (you don’t need to be in a position of authority to sexually harass someone)

Flirting is one thing. He totally crossed the line though.

This is not correct. The federal law specifically outlaws specific illicit activities with anyone under the age of 18, without regard to state or local laws.

Except that it seems like in every case, Foley started his relationship with the young men after they had finished the page program. I don’t think sexual harrassment is criminal, anyway.

18 U.S.C. § 2422. Coercion and enticement

(a) Whoever knowingly persuades, induces, entices, or coerces any individual to travel in interstate or foreign commerce, or in any Territory or Possession of the United States, to engage in prostitution, or in any sexual activity for which any person can be charged with a criminal offense, or attempts to do so, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.

(b) Whoever, using the mail or any facility or means of interstate or foreign commerce, or within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States knowingly persuades, induces, entices, or coerces any individual who has not attained the age of 18 years, to engage in prostitution or any sexual activity for which any person can be charged with a criminal offense, or attempts to do so, shall be fined under this title and imprisoned not less than 5 years and not more than 30 years.