Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

William Kennedy Smith

A Cry in the Dark

William Kennedy Smith
William Kennedy Smith

It was nearly eleven in the evening on March 30, 1991 when Senator Ted Kennedy, his son Patrick, 23, and nephew William Kennedy Smith, 30, left the Kennedy family's Palm Beach, Florida ocean front holiday retreat to go out for drinks at a popular bistro known as Ann'z. Even though it was late, things were just getting moving in the city and the Kennedys wanted to be a part of the fun. After a brief stop at the bistro, Ted, Patrick and William went to another nightspot named Au Bar, "where trust fund idlers, obscure blue bloods, bejeweled society matrons and erstwhile celebs like Roxanne Pulitzer" went to rub elbows, Michelle Green reported in an April 22, 1991 People Weekly article.

While at the bar, Patrick met a 27-year-old Testa's Restaurant waitress, Michelle Cassone, with whom he danced and shared drinks. William also met a woman named Patricia Bowman, a 29-year-old single mother out with her girlfriend, Anne Weatherly Mercer. Later that evening when the bars closed, the two couples went back to the Kennedy family retreat for the remainder of the evening.

Michelle and Patrick drank wine and talked in the living room. According to Green, at one point Ted Kennedy walked into the room "without his trousers" and sporting only a long-tailed shirt, something that made Michelle Cassone feel extremely uncomfortable. She was quoted in the article saying that they went to sit outside on the sea wall, where the three talked about the ocean and "the importance of the family."

Patrick Kennedy
Patrick Kennedy

In a different location at the Kennedy compound, Patricia Bowman and William Kennedy Smith were talking as they strolled along the beach. In a December 1991 People Weekly article, Linda Mark quoted Patricia as saying that William "suddenly took off his clothes and jumped in the ocean." Feeling uneasy, Patricia turned around and started back towards the house. It was then, Mark suggested, that William allegedly tackled Patricia, threw her to the ground and, despite her cries of protest, raped her. Soon after, Patricia went back to the house and called Anne Mercer, who picked her up at the Kennedys' residence. She was taken to the Palm Beach Police Station where she made a rape report and was then taken to Humana Hospital, located nearby, where she was treated for injuries and subjected to forensic testing. A police official stated that he was, "99 percent sure" that Patricia was the victim of a sex crime, Green reported.

Michelle, Patrick and Ted, who were also at the estate, allegedly had no knowledge that any crime occurred that evening. The following Monday, news of the alleged rape spread quickly. In fact, at the time it became one of the most highly publicized rape cases in United States history.

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