Robert F. Kennedy Jr. accused his estranged wife, Mary, of abusing his children from an earlier marriage, including stealing items from his young daughter, showing up uninvited on trips he took after they separated and sometimes calling him dozens of times a day, according to a legal filing revealed Sunday.
Mary Kennedy killed herself last month at the family's estate in Bedford, New York. Robert Kennedy filed for divorce two years ago, and the case was pending when she died. The couple married in 1994 and had four children together.
Portions of a confidential affidavit filed in 2011 in the divorce case were posted online by The Daily Beast as part of a cover story in Newsweek magazine about Mary Kennedy that was written by Kennedy family biographer Laurence Leamer. A spokesman for the site declined to comment on how the affidavit was obtained.
Its contents convey years of strain in the Kennedys' relationship. Among them, Robert Kennedy recounted instances around 1997 of taking his daughter from his first marriage, then 9, to the airport at the end of weekend visits. She'd continually lose things like her wallet or plane ticket, and he chided her for it. He said his teary-eyed daughter told him that his second wife was taking the items and when he tried to convince her otherwise, "She looked me in the eye and said, 'No, Daddy, Mary hates me.'"
He said he found the items weeks later, hidden in a drawer under his wife's clothes.
Calls to divorce lawyers for both Kennedys were not immediately returned Sunday.
In the filing, Robert Kennedy also asked the court to stop Mary from a list of behaviours, including physical attacks on him, stealing his possessions, going to his house, and following him on trips she was not invited on.
He also asked that she be required to remain sober in front of their children, and stopped from talking about their marriage to the children, or threatening suicide in front of them.
In the affidavit, Kennedy described knowing Mary since 1975, after she became best friends as a teenager with his sister Kerry. He described her as "kind, generous" and "stunningly beautiful." He said he "fell deeply in love with her," and that she had a good relationship with his first two children before the couple married but changed afterward.
"Mary began to be abusive toward both my children and particularly hateful toward" his daughter, he said.
Kennedy said he didn't initially know of the treatment, but three years after they married it triggered his first attempt at divorce.
Kennedy said he needed the court to grant his protective order and make Mary Kennedy sign a child custody agreement "for the sake of my children and for my own safety and sanity."
It was after the couple split that Mary Kennedy's internal struggles became public, including two arrests on charges of driving while intoxicated.
"She struggled so hard, for so long, with mental illness, which so many Americans suffer with," Kerry Kennedy said after her death. "She fought with dignity, and in the end, the demons won."
The domestic turmoil extended into preparations for her funeral. One of Mary's brothers went to court in an attempt to get custody of her body, while the Kennedys planned to bury her near the family's seaside compound in Hyannisport, Massachusetts.