Ted Haggard, the former pastor of an evangelical super church who was forced to resign after revelations of a three-year affair with a male prostitute, has said he sexually abused as a seven-year-old.

Colorado’s New Life Church’s founder also resigned as president of the National Association of Evangelicals in 2006 after it emerged that he had been involved in a sexual relationship with Mike Jones and had bought and taken methamphetamines with male prostitutes.

Mr Jones, 50, claims that Mr Haggard, a vocal opponent of gay marriage, was a monthly client for three years.

In an apology to the church, Mr Haggard urged members to forgive and thank Mr Jones for exposing deceit.

“There I was, 50 years old, a conservative Republican, loving the word of God, an evangelical, born-again, spirit-filled, charismatic, all those things,” Mr Haggard said in a tape released online.

“But some of the things that were buried in the depths of the sea from when I was in the second grade started to rage in my heart and mind.”

In the tape he admited he had “sinned” but said some of the allegations against him had been exaggerated.

Earlier this year Mr Jones was offered $500,000 (£337,000) to appear on the FOX reality series Moment of Truth, where contestants take a lie detector test.

He failed a previous test, but the administrator said he doubted the its validity given Mr Jones’ stress and lack of sleep.

Mr Jones had been working as a masseuse when his alleged relationship with Haggard began.

At the time, Mr Jones said the married pastor told him his fantasy was “to have sex with about 6 young college guys ranging from 18 to 22 in age.”

He entered three weeks of reparative therapy and claimed to have been cured of his homosexual leanings.

In February 2007, in an interview in the Denver Post, one of the four pastors who have been giving Haggard the intensive course of counselling said:

“He is completely heterosexual. That is something he discovered.

“It was the acting-out situations where things took place. It wasn’t a constant thing.”