Photograph by Brian Snyder-Pool/Getty Images.
Before his estranged wife killed herself last month, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. accused her of physically abusing him and repeatedly speaking of suicide in front of their children, according to a confidential 2011 legal filing detailed in this week's Newsweek cover story.
In the 60-page divorce affidavit partially published in the magazine, RFK Jr. told of Mary Richardson Kennedy's severely changing moods that declined over time, as well as his multiple extramarital affairs and her several half-heated attempts to kill herself that preceded her suicide last month. In the document, filed in September 2011, RFK Jr. ultimately asked the judge for an order of protection—for the sake, he said, of his own sanity and safety.
At one point in the document, JFK's nephew recounts coming to his wife's house at her urging the day she ran over and killed the family dog in the driveway:
"She struck me maybe 30 more times or more. ... she was drunk and unsteady ... . She screamed at Aidan [their son] as she hit me. 'He is a demon. He is a demon. He is the most evil kind of man in the world. Everything he does is evil and a fraud. He is a philanderer, an adulterer, a sex addict.' Aidan was crying. I backed down the back stairs blocking her blows—and dodged out the kitchen door. She pursued me, pummeling and pushing me with her fists all the way."
Mary's psychotherapist told RFK Jr., according to his filing, that she had Borderline Personality Disorder. A Harvard specialist they met with was also convinced that she had a classic case of the disorder. The symptoms Kennedy exhibited included an intense fear of abandonment, suicidal threats, chronic feelings of emptiness, and inappropriate displays of anger.
The Richardson family declined to comment for the Newsweek story but responded to its publishing with a statement that called the affidavit "scurrilous" and "nothing more than a brutal psychological weapon in the divorce case." They denied that she suffered from the personality disorder, calling the notion offensive to those who have the serious illness, and claimed that Kennedy repudiated the assertions in the affidavit at the time.