A Michigan congressman said Monday that allegations of sexual abuse made against him by his 63-year-old second cousin are the result of the man's mental illness and other relatives' attempts to extort money from him.
"It's false and outrageous charges," U.S. Rep. Dale Kildee told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "It's based upon a long history of mental illness ... (and) an attempt to blackmail me."
Patrick Kildee told Saginaw CBS affiliate WNEM that Dale Kildee sexually abused him on multiple occasions when he was 15 years old and that the congressman acknowledged the abuse during a visit decades later, saying, "You have no idea how much I suffer because of what I did to you."
Dale Kildee told the AP, however, that his relative's story was "absolutely untrue." The 82-year-old Flint Democrat said he went to the FBI this fall after Patrick's son, Sean, contacted him in late September "indicating that he needed money very badly."
"I have no idea anymore why they're trying to blackmail (me)," the congressman told the AP, adding that another relative attempted to get money from him about 20 years ago.
Kildee's chief of staff, Callie Coffman, said Patrick Kildee spent time in a psychiatric facility about two decades ago.
Patrick Kildee couldn't be reached Monday at a phone listed in his name in New Mexico. A message left at a listed number for a Sean Patrick Kildee in Wisconsin was not immediately returned.
The Washington Times first reported the allegations and posted on its website video interviews with Patrick Kildee's mother, stepfather and sister. WNEM said it conducted its own six-month investigation into the abuse accusations.
The Associated Press does not usually name sexual assault victims, but Patrick Kildee came forward publicly in the television interview.
Dale Kildee, who already had announced plans to retire next year, put out a statement Sunday denying the allegations.
"I regret having to air all of this in public, but I feel like I have no choice," he wrote. "This is a concerted effort ... to destroy my reputation by lying about something that never took place more than 50 years ago."
Asked Monday whether he took a car ride with Patrick Kildee and confessed as his cousin claimed, Dale Kildee said, "It never happened."
The congressman said the allegations surfaced during his last congressional race but were rejected by authorities and news organizations.
Dale Kildee also distributed a copy of a letter, dated Jan. 12, 1988, which he says is the last communication he had with Patrick Kildee. The letter addresses the congressman as "My Dear Cousin Dale" and asks for assistance in combating hunger in Zimbabwe.
Dale and Gayle Kildee have been married since 1965 and have three adult children and 10 grandchildren.
Follow Kathy Barks Hoffman on Twitter (at)kathybhoffman
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