His Brother's Keeper: Joe Kennedy Pleads For Healing

Posted: July 10, 1997

WASHINGTON — Rep. Joseph Kennedy, D-Mass., said yesterday he hoped for ``healing'' after a Massachusetts district attorney decided not to file charges against his brother Michael over allegations that he had sex with the family's teen-age baby sitter.

``Obviously this is a time when I hope that there can be healing in Michael's family,'' Kennedy told reporters yesterday. Both men are sons of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy.

``There can only be a sense of pain that has come out of all these circumstances, and I'm sure that he and [his wife] Vicky and their children . . . all find a way to put these very, very tough and difficult times in the past,'' Kennedy said.

Norfolk County District Attorney Jeffrey Locke said Tuesday that he would not file charges against Michael Kennedy because the alleged victim would not cooperate.

Locke had been investigating allegations that Kennedy began having sex with the woman when she was 14. The allegations surfaced shortly after Kennedy announced in April that he was separating from his wife of 16 years, Victoria Gifford Kennedy, the daughter of TV sportscaster Frank Gifford.

Sex with someone under 16 constitutes statutory rape under Massachusetts law and is punishable by up to life in prison.

Locke said that without the young woman's cooperation, there is no ``independent, compelling and direct evidence'' she had had sex with Kennedy before she turned 16 in 1994.

``The victim through her attorney has made it clear that she would not willingly participate and indeed would seek to invoke her Fifth Amendment right not to testify,'' Locke said.

The woman is now 19 and a student at Boston University.

The scandal rekindled the Kennedy men's reputation for womanizing and jeopardized plans by Joseph Kennedy to run for governor next year.

Asked whether he still planned to run, Joseph Kennedy replied, ``Yes, I fully intend at an appropriate time to get involved in that campaign, but at an appropriate time.''

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