Kennedy says he was not involved in sexual assault

April 03, 1991|By New York Times News Service

PALM BEACH, FLORIDA — PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Sen. Edward M. Kennedy and his son Patrick issued statements yesterday saying they were not involved in a sexual assault that allegedly took place at the Kennedy compound here over the weekend.

A 30-year-old woman says she was raped at the Kennedy family's beachfront estate early Saturday, after encountering Senator Kennedy, one of his sons and one of his nephews at a luxurious nightclub here.

The woman, whose name has not been released, has identified an assailant by name, but investigators have yet to confirm her accusations, said Joseph L. Terlizzese, the chief of the Palm Beach Police Department. The chief would not say whom the police had questioned or were seeking to question in the case.

Mr. Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat, and his son Patrick, a 23-year-old senior at Providence College in Providence, R.I., who is also a member of the state Legislature there, issued statements yesterday saying they were at the estate during xTC Easter weekend but were not involved in the reported attack.

The senator's nephew, William Kennedy Smith, who is in his last term at Georgetown University Medical School in Washington, could not be reached, either through the school or through his mother, Jean Kennedy Smith, the senator's sister, who lives in Manhattan.

His father, Stephen E. Smith, a businessman who managed many of the Kennedy family political campaigns, including John F. Kennedy's successful run for the presidency in 1960, died in August.

According to a statement issued by the Palm Beach police, the woman said she was raped about 4 a.m. Saturday on the grounds of the Kennedys' Mediterranean-style mansion and was treated at a local hospital Saturday afternoon for minor injuries.

Her complaint was filed at 2:32 p.m., about 10 1/2 hours after she said the attack occurred, said Officer Craig Gunkel, the police department spokesman. He said he thought "psychological factors" were responsible for her delay in filing the complaint.

Shortly after the woman got in touch with the police Saturday afternoon, investigators were sent to the Kennedy compound, but by that time the man identified by the woman as her assailant had left Palm Beach, Chief Terlizzese said in interviews yesterday.

Asked whether he was satisfied that investigators had been able to question all members of the Kennedy family who might have information on the case, Chief Terlizzese said, "We are not satisfied."

He said the woman told investigators that she met Mr. Kennedy and his party late Friday night or early Saturday at Au Bar, a drinking establishment that has a loyal following among some of the wealthiest and most fashionable people here.

The woman said that after spending some time at the Kennedys' table, "she went up there for a couple of cocktails," the chief

said, referring to the Kennedy compound.

Holly Montgomery, a Palm Beach resident, said she and her husband, Michael, went to the club about 1 a.m. after attending a party. Sometime later, she said, she saw the senator talking and laughing with a group of people in the crowded bar.

A local businesswoman, who asked not to be identified, said she saw the senator accompanied by several other men and women still at the bar well after the last round of drinks was served at 3 a.m. on Saturday.

Members of the Kennedy family have made regular winter and spring visits to their villa on North Ocean Boulevard since its purchase in 1933.

David Kennedy, son of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, died of a drug overdose in a Palm Beach hotel during one such Easter sojourn in 1984.

Although the complaint was filed Saturday afternoon, the police department did not release information on the incident until Monday morning, and since then the authorities have declined to discuss details of the case.

Agnes Ash, publisher of the Palm Beach Daily News, threatened legal action to obtain the police report under Florida's public records law.

Officer Gunkel, the police spokesman, said so many famous people come to Palm Beach that "we can't afford to play favorites, or we'd be playing favorites every day of the week."

He insisted that information was being withheld in the case only to expedite the investigation.

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