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Florida authorities launch full criminal investigation of Foley messages

[JURIST] The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) [official website] has opened a full criminal investigation into former Republican congressman Mark Foley [Congressional profile] in connection with his sexually explicit computer messages to young male pages disclosed [JURIST report] earlier this year. The FDLE began preliminary investigations shortly after Foley stepped down on September 29 and announced the start of its full probe Thursday. The FBI [official website] has also been examining the emails and IMs for violations of federal law. Foley has denied having any sexual contact with minors [attorney statement, PDF].

Foley may be criminally liable under Title XLVI, Chapter 847 s. 847.0135(3) [text; legislature website] of the Florida Statutes, which makes seducing a child through the Internet a third degree felony. The US House Ethics Committee [official website] has launched an inquiry [JURIST report] into allegations that senior Republican leaders knew of Foley's conduct as early as 2002 but took no action. BBC News has more. The Miami Herald has local coverage.

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