In November of 1997, Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX) publicly questioned the credibility of a teenage girl's claims that she'd been the victim of the sex trade in the Northern Mariana Islands. The statement, which Rep. Hall entered into the Congressional Record, was prepared by Jack Abramoff, the lobbyist for the islands.
"[S]he wanted to do nude dancing," Hall's statement said of the fifteen-year-old girl. She had earlier told federal investigators that she'd been forced to work for a local nightclub in a nightly live sex show. You can read the entirety of Hall's statement here.
Press accounts at the time detailed how the girl had been taken from her parents in the Phillippines, and forced to perform sex acts on stage and before video cameras at a Northern Marianas sex club. A 1998 Department of Labor report confirmed those reports.
Hall's challenger in Texas' 4th District, history professor Glenn Melancon, has made the episode a campaign issue. "When investigators discovered child prostitution and forced abortions on the Mariana Islands, Congressman Ralph Hall was paid for covering it up and publicly attacking one of the raped children," read postcards his campaign distributed to voters.
Hall has called the charge an "outright lie." His office did not respond to our request for comment on this story. But records show that Abramoff's staff contacted Hall's office fifteen times in the two months leading up to his statement in the Congressional Record.