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Page's family: Leave our 'hero' son alone

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(CNN) -- The family of a Louisiana teenager who reported "sick" e-mails from former Rep. Mark Foley called their son a hero Thursday and said they want reporters to go away.

Foley resigned last week after ABC news showed him it had some of the e-mails he exchanged with the former male page in 2005, who was then 16 and had worked for Rep. Rodney Alexander, a Louisiana Republican.

The family's statement calls the e-mails "ambiguous" and expresses support for Alexander.

Saying the family wishes to remain anonymous, the statement adds that the former page is "becoming a victim due to harassment by some of the media."

The scandal has rocked the Republican leadership of the House of Representatives and led to accusations of a cover-up. (Full story)

The e-mails to the Louisiana teen included a request for the teen's picture. In another exchange, Foley purportedly asked the teen what he wanted for his birthday and "what stuff do you like to do?"

And in another, the congressman is quoted as making comments about another former page, saying he "acts much older than his age" and "he's in really great shape."

House leaders have said they knew about e-mails they considered "overly friendly" in late 2005 and early 2006 but were unaware of sexually explicit instant messages allegedly sent from Foley to other pages until they were reported last week.

The statement says the family also had no knowledge of the instant messages.

The full text of the family's statement:

We wish to remain anonymous in an effort to prevent any further harm to our family.

There has been much media inquiry regarding our son and his time as a house page. Although our son bravely came forward with information regarding Congressman Foley, his experience as a House page was not marred by the kind of wrongdoing that appears to have occurred with respect to other House pages and Congressman Foley.

In fact, we are pleased that he had the opportunity to serve as a page in the U.S. House of Representatives and if given the opportunity, he would serve as a page again.

We would like to express our support for our congressman, Rodney Alexander, whose office sponsored our son's position as a House page. As far as we know, Congressman Alexander's conduct in this matter has been beyond reproach. He has tried his best to do what we have asked him to do from the very beginning: Namely, to protect the privacy of our son and family from the intense media scrutiny we are now having to endure.

In the fall of 2005, as soon as Congressman Alexander became aware of the e-mails received by our son, he called us. He explained that his office had been made aware of these e-mails by our son and that while he thought the e-mails were overly friendly, he did not think, nor did we think, that they were offensive enough to warrant an investigation.

Rather, we asked him to see that Congressman Foley stop e-mailing or contacting our son and to otherwise drop the matter in order to avoid a media frenzy. He did so. If we had any other knowledge or evidence of potential impropriety, we would have asked for the matter to be treated differently. For instance, we were not aware of the instant messages that have come to light in the past few days.

These instant messages, which have only recently surfaced as a result of the news of the ambiguous e-mails received by our son, are separate matters.

As a young man with integrity who had the courage to question the intention of the e-mails, we respect and honor our son as a hero. Despite his courageous actions, he is becoming a victim due to the harassment by some of the media. Please honor our request that we be left alone. There is nothing more that we can contribute to this ongoing matter. He is not the story, and we feel this intense media scrutiny could endanger our son and family.

We have no intention of discussing this further. Thank you.


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