Fla. authorities say they can't prove Foley case

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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- Former U.S. Rep. Mark Foley won't face state or federal criminal charges for allegedly sending salacious computer messages to underage male pages, in part because authorities couldn't prove the authenticity of the chats, officials said Friday.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement also noted in an investigative report that too much time had passed since the February 2003 messages to bring any charges.

"There did not appear to be probable cause that a crime was committed," the report said.

Justice Department spokeswoman Laura Sweeney said Friday that prosecutors advised Foley's attorney in July that the former congressman would not face any federal charges, either.

The Florida Republican resigned from Congress in 2006 after being confronted with illicit e-mails and instant messages he was purported to have sent to Capitol Hill pages, who are high school students who run errands for lawmakers and learn about Congress.

Florida law enforcement had been investigating alleged electronic communication between Foley and an underage page, Jordan Edmund. The instant messages were purportedly sent in February 2003 from Pensacola.

Authorities were investigating whether Foley broke the law by sending lewd or seductive messages to minors, or whether he tried to arrange a meeting for sex with a minor.

In addition to not being able to obtain the records, Florida authorities noted that a three-year statute of limitations on any potential crimes had expired in 2006.

"However, it is important to note that even if the statute of limitations had not run, there would be no prosecutable case. There are no original records of the 'instant messages' received by Edmund," the report said.

Florida authorities noted the case took a long time to close, in part because Foley refused to allow investigators to examine his congressional computer hard drives. The computers and their contents are protected as privileged material, and only Foley could release them.

Foley's attorney, David Roth, didn't immediately comment but said he planned a news conference early Friday evening.

An attorney for Edmund said the former page, who now lives in Oklahoma City, would have no comment. Edmund's attorney, Stephen Jones, said there was never any physical contact and charges were not warranted.

Edmund had told investigators that he began communicating with Foley after he completed the House page program and was a 17-year-old senior in high school.

He told investigators that he chatted with Foley over the Internet up to four times a week and that the content of the messages grew "more sexual in nature."

However, he told investigators he never engaged in sexual activity with Foley, despite once being offered oral sex from the congressman during a page reunion.

State investigators said they interviewed 17 people who had served as House pages and none reported any inappropriate communications with Foley.

Foley represented parts of Palm Beach County for 12 years in Congress, building a national reputation as an advocate for tougher laws against child sexual predators. He helped craft a law to protect children on the Internet while serving as co-chairman of the Congressional Missing and Exploited Children's Caucus.