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Mary Kennedy family blasts media, says suicide misrepresented

May 18, 2012|By Rene Lynch
  • Mary Richardson Kennedy outside her home in Bedford, N.Y., in April 2010.
Mary Richardson Kennedy outside her home in Bedford, N.Y., in April 2010. (Mark Vergari / The Journal…)

The grieving family of Mary R. Kennedy -- the estranged wife of Robert Kennedy Jr. -- said media coverage of her suicide by hanging was riddled with "inaccuracies and misrepresentations" and that relatives plan to hold their own memorial service apart from the Kennedy clan.

Mary Kennedy, 52, had long struggled with drugs and alcohol; her body was found hanging in a barn Wednesday on the family property in Bedford, N.Y. An autopsy labeled her death "asphyxiation due to hanging.” It could be months before toxicology tests are completed.

The suicide unleashed a flood of media coverage that picked over Mary Kennedy's personal struggles and her collapsed marriage, as well as reviving the Kennedy family's long history of personal tragedy.

It has also driven a wedge between the two families involved, according to the New York Daily News, leading to plans for dueling memorial services. Robert Kennedy Jr. reportedly ordered Mary Kennedy's sisters from the Bedford home when they arrived there this week following the suicide. The sisters had to seek a police escort in order to return to collect some of Mary Kennedy's personal papers, the Daily News reported.

In a statement to CNN, Mary Kennedy's family criticized some media reports about the suicide -- although the statement stopped short of identifying offending media outlets, or spelling out the alleged inaccuracies.

"While we would naturally prefer to remain private at this very upsetting time, we feel compelled to make this statement because the description of Mary carried by certain news organizations since her passing yesterday is wholly inconsistent with the sister we knew and the life she, in fact, lived," her family said in the written statement published at CNN.

"We loved Mary and knew her to be an exceptional mother, sibling and friend to many," the statement said. "Countless people have described her as an extraordinary mother, selfless in her desire to help others, and one of the finest people in the world. We know her as all those things, and more."

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s father was Robert F. Kennedy, the U.S. attorney general turned U.S. senator from New York who was campaigning for the presidency when he was shot and assassinated in Los Angeles in 1968. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is also the nephew of  President Kennedy, who was cut down by an assassin's bullet in 1963.

Mary Kennedy, an architect and designer, had four children with Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who is an environmental activist.

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rene.lynch@latimes.com

Join Rene Lynch on Google+, Facebook or Twitter. Email: rene.lynch@latimes.com

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