COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Disgraced evangelical pastor Ted Haggard says he was sexually abused as a child and that the experience "started to rage in my mind and in my heart" when he was caught up in a sex scandal involving a male prostitute.
Haggard made the remarks in two recent sermons in Morrison, Illinois, ABC television reported Wednesday.
Haggard said one of his father's employees "had a sexual experience with me" when Haggard was 7, according to audio recordings of the sermons posted on the ABC News Web site.
Haggard said he later became "a conservative Republican, loving the word of God, an evangelical, born-again, spirit-filled, charismatic, all those things.
"But some of the things that were buried in the depths of the sea from when I was in the second grade started to rage in my mind and in my heart," he said.
In 2006, Haggard was fired as pastor of the 14,000-member New Life Church in Colorado Springs when a former male prostitute alleged they had a cash-for-sex relationship. The man also said he saw Haggard use methamphetamine. Haggard also stepped down as president of the National Association of Evangelicals.
He has said some of the allegations were exaggerated but he has never offered specifics.
Haggard, who is starting an insurance agency in Colorado Springs, did not immediately return a phone message left by The Associated Press.
Haggard previously had confessed to undisclosed "sexual immorality," and on the new audio he said: "I really did sin."
Haggard said his family suffered severely for his actions.
"My wife — all my sin and shame fell on her. People treated her as if she had fallen," he said. "And my children — they all went through carrying my shame. And I am so sorry that I did that to my family."
Haggard said he became suicidal but eventually emerged with a stronger Christian faith and marriage than he'd ever had.
Haggard said church leaders missed an opportunity to use his scandal to "communicate the gospel worldwide through secular media."
"We consistently blow it" when those opportunities arise, he said.
"A congressman in trouble, that's the time. A family member gets himself in horrible trouble, that's the time. A preacher gets himself in awful trouble, that's the time," he said, his voice rising to a near-shout.
Audio of Haggard's Illinois sermons were posted on http://tedhaggard.com, but the Web site was unavailable late Wednesday, carrying only the message, "Website Is Being Rebuilt."