WASHINGTON – Former Rep. Mark Foley's sudden resignation last week after it was revealed that he had sexually explicit electronic conversations with teenage male congressional pages was not the first time that a congressman's conduct with pages was the center of Washington scandal.
In 1983, two congressmen, Reps. Gerry E. Studds and Daniel B. Crane, were caught having sexual relationships with pages — Studds with a male page and Crane with a female page. Studds, a Democrat, would go on to be re-elected in his Massachusetts district and served until his 1996 retirement, while Crane, a Republican, would lose his Illinois seat to the scandal.
Both men were censured the same day by the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct — commonly known as the House ethics committee.
Studds' involvement dated back to 1973, according to the House investigation. He admitted to having consensual sexual relations with a 17-year-old boy that year, and documents showed he had made advances on two other male pages.
Studds, 47 at the time, didn't back down during the investigation and instead lashed out at the investigation for invading his privacy; he said that because he was a gay, elected public official, it was much "more complex" to live a "meaningful private life."
The accusations against Crane, 46 at the time, were from 1980. Crane admitted to the relationship and apologized to his family.
"I'm human, and in no way did I violate my oath of office. I only hope my wife and children will forgive me," Crane said.
Both Studds and Crane were censured — officially admonished — by the House because of their conduct. Although there are no specific consequences for a censure, Studds was forced to step down from his position as chairman of a subcommittee that oversaw the Merchant Marine and fisheries, and Crane lost his re-election bid in 1984.
One person who had been in charge of the House page program, James C. Howarth, also became embroiled in the scandal. He had been in charge of the House page program until 1982, and in 1983 allegations surfaced that he'd had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old female page. He resigned from the job in 1983.
Howarth had been accused also of buying cocaine on House property and giving the page with whom he'd had a relationship leniency to miss work. The House ethics committee cleared him of those charges.