Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

William Kennedy Smith

The Eye of the Storm

Senator Ted Kennedy
Senator Ted Kennedy

By many accounts, the police investigation into the rape was botched from the start. Green stated that it took two days from the time of the purported crime for a police report to be filed, in which no suspect's name was ever mentioned. Moreover, Margaret Carlson said in an April 1991 Time article that "by the end of the week, police still had not questioned any Kennedys. Nor did they interrogate bartenders, parking-lot attendants or other potential witnesses until a week after the alleged crime."

To make matters worse, many reporters following the case believed that the Kennedy family wasn't completely forthcoming with information concerning the event. Carlson said that William "refused to give a statement" and when asked by the media about the alleged rape he flatly denied it ever occurred. Furthermore, Carlson claimed that Ted failed to return phone calls made by investigators.

In the meantime, Patricia tried to keep her identity hidden from the press. The last thing she wanted was reporters knocking on the door at all hours, especially when her small child was around. Unfortunately, Patricia was unable to keep her identity secret for long in the ongoing media frenzy.

In an April 1992 Stanford University News Service article, Patricia said that "within 48 hours of the assault" she was "under siege" by the media. She further stated that, "news people were in her street, in her yard, on her property, day and night, making her and her daughter's life unbearable."  Even though her name was publicly released, she was still able to keep the rest of her identity hidden, at least until she was ready to reveal it herself.

William Kennedy Smith mug shot
William Kennedy Smith mug

In mid May 1991, over a thousand pages of official documents concerning the case, including the depositions of Ted, William and Patrick were publicly released. Carlson reported in a May 1991 Time article that the documents showed, "that the senator initially stonewalled the police and that neither he nor his son Patrick...was truthful." Carlson also claimed that a visiting guest of the senator, former FBI agent William Barry, lied to investigators who came to the house when he told them that neither William nor Ted were at the residence when they actually were. Moreover, she mentioned in the article that when the police phoned an hour later, a housekeeper "told them Barry had taken the senator and Smith to the airport" even though Kennedy didn't leave until the next day. Even more surprisingly, Cathy Booth claimed in a December 1991 Time article that "for two weeks the family rebuffed police attempts to survey the grounds where the alleged assault took place." Many began to wonder if the Kennedys were deliberately trying to hide something.

Following his arrest and subsequent release on bail, William Kennedy Smith made no attempt to shy away from the media. A December 30, 1991 People Weekly article reported that prior to the upcoming trial scheduled for later that year, William "posed for photo ops romping with his new Labrador retriever and speaking to school children." In fact, William seemed unscathed by the accusations, even though the Duke University graduate did miss his Georgetown University Medical School exams shortly after the scandal broke and the vast majority of his inheritance from his father, the late Stephen Smith, was used to pay his mounting legal fees. It is likely that William believed he had little to lose. After all, he was a Kennedy and he had some of the country's movers and shakers on his side.

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