11/20/2011 08:30 pm ET Updated Nov 21, 2011

Dale Kildee, Democratic Congressman, Denies Molestation Allegations

WASHINGTON — A Michigan congressman on Sunday fiercely denied allegations by distant relatives that he sexually abused a then-12-year-old second cousin several decades ago.

Kildee, who plans to retire next year, accused the relatives of working with "political adversaries to destroy my reputation by lying about something that never took place."

The congressman said the allegations surfaced during his last congressional race but were rejected by authorities and news organizations. They have apparently resurfaced in an effort to win the open seat in 2012, Kildee said.

Kildee charged that the accusers may have been motivated by blackmail and that he made a formal report to the FBI when one of the relatives asked him for money and federal benefits.

Kildee also distributed a copy of a letter, dated Jan. 12, 1988, which he says is the last communication he has had with his second cousin, the alleged victim. The letter addresses the congressman as "My Dear Cousin Dale" and asks for assistance in combating hunger in Zimbabwe.

The newspaper story names but doesn't quote the alleged victim. The Associated Press was unable to reach him or his relatives for comment on Sunday.

Rep. Kildee is serving his 18th term in Congress. He announced earlier this year that he would not seek a 19th term, leaving his 5th District seat open for his nephew, Dan Kildee, to compete for.

Kildee will hold a press conference Monday to further refute the molestation allegations.

The congressman's entire statement, via Flint Journal.

"The allegations against me are completely false and shameful. I regret having to air all of this in public, but I feel like I have no choice.

This is a concerted effort by distant relatives, two of whom have a long history of mental illness and multiple run-ins with the law, along with political adversaries to destroy my reputation by lying about something that never took place more than 50 years ago.

Republicans tried to peddle these scurrilous allegations during my last congressional race and authorities and reputable news outlets rejected these false allegations. Now they are back at it again to try to win an open congressional seat. These allegations resurfaced recently when the accuser's son asked me for money and federal benefits, which I refused to do and which I formally reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The following audio tapes were recently posted online by the family in which they discuss in their own words how they attempted to blackmail me. They further state that they have no evidence to support their claims while discussing at length the long history of mental illness. Twenty years ago, the accuser's wife called me demanding federal benefits. On the audio, the family admits to the blackmail and says the accuser's wife said, 'you're going to get me his Social Security disability, or I'm going to go public with that.'

In addition, this letter is the last communication I had with my second cousin 23 years ago. The letter clearly shows he held no animosity towards me and can only be categorized as bizarre."