Magazine article Newsweek

Kennedy vs Kennedy: A Pol's Ex-Wife Goes Public with His Private Sins

Magazine article Newsweek

Kennedy vs Kennedy: A Pol's Ex-Wife Goes Public with His Private Sins

Article excerpt

A pol's ex-wife goes public with his private sins

THERE'S PROBABLY NO PERFECT moment for your ex to tell all about your breakup. But for U.S. Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy II, the timing could hardly be worse. His ex-wife is beginning a national tour to plug an unflattering new book just as the six-term congressman is plotting a step up to governor of Massachusetts. In "Shattered Faith," Sheila Rauch Kennedy describes Joe, the eldest son of the late Robert Kennedy, as a hot-tempered and impatient man who badgered her for an annulment of their 12-year marriage. "My former husband was powerful and popular," she writes. "I was, as he so often reminded me, a nobody; and nobody in his town would be on my side."

The Kennedy family is no stranger to questions about how its men treat women. Aside from a 1973 Jeep accident on Nantucket that left a young woman paralyzed, however, Joe has evaded scandal. But he does have a reputation for being temperamental--an impression his former wife's book reinforces. "[B]y the end of our marriage I had simply become afraid of him," Sheila writes. The congressman declined to discuss the book's specifies. "These are very private, personal issues," Kennedy told NEWSWEEK.

In 1993, two years after the Kennedys had obtained a civil divorce, Joe sought an annulment so he could wed longtime aide Beth Kelly in a Catholic ceremony. Sheila got the news in the mail. "I was unable to read any further," she recalls. "As I rushed to the bathroom, I tried to remember when I had last actually vomited ... I remember thinking Joe must simply be out of his mind. …

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