Debt, Drugs and Divorce Led RFK Jr. Wife To Suicide

Debt, drugs and divorce battle added to RFK Jr. wife’s troubles: pals

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Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Mary Richardson Kennedy

Her Camelot dreams were falling apart.

Mary Richardson Kennedy was deep in credit-card debt and getting hammered in divorce court when she hanged herself in a barn on her Westchester estate, friends and documents revealed yesterday.

Robert Francis Kennedy Jr. slapped the mother of his four children with several restraining orders, trying to get full custody of the kids — all while he publicly replaced her with his actress girlfriend, Cheryl Hines.

“He was kicking her while she’s down, all alone in this house that she built,” a close friend said. “In the end, everything was just too much. “And debt collectors were breathing down her neck.

American Express filed a civil suit against Mary in Westchester on April 16, an astounding revelation for someone whose husband has access to the Kennedy trust fund. A desperate Mary, 52, feared she’d lose everything: her kids, her financial independence and the sprawling estate that she had appointed like a presidential museum. “He was going for full custody of the kids, which broke her heart. She also had been part of the Kennedy family for 30 years. And now she was being cast aside by them,” a second family friend said.

She fell deep into despair — abusing alcohol and prescription drugs — threatening suicide so often that the family staged an intervention, another friend said. She even tried AA meetings, but often relapsed, friends and family said. “There were times when she had to be taken to the hospital when she would be acting irrationally and threatening to hurt herself,” a source said. Sister-in-law Kerry Kennedy said Mary — a lifelong friend — had been sober for five months, but was still battling depression. “She fought with every ounce of her mission to overcome that horrible disease,” Kerry Kennedy told The New York Times. “It was not something that she asked for; it was something that she was dealt.”

Despite the claims of Mary’s friends, an exhausted RFK Jr. had only kind words for his tormented, estranged wife. “A lot of times I don’t know how she made it through the day. She was in a lot of agony for a lot of her life. I don’t think anyone who was around her didn’t do everything that they could to help her,” he told the Times. Calling Mary “extraordinary,” he said, “She was a good person who did not deserve the kind of pain she had to live with.” Kennedy said that, contrary to reports, his wife did not leave a suicide note.

Court records show Kennedy relentlessly built a case against Mary in their custody battle. Kennedy, 58 — the son of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy — filed temporary restraining orders against Mary that a Westchester judge signed on March 28, April 19 and again last Friday, documents show. He also filed an order of protection last September and got another judge to hold her in contempt of court later that month. The two were due back on Aug. 10. A four-day trial scheduled for September could have resulted in her losing custody. Records in the case are sealed.

Mary also feared getting booted from her estate on South Bedford Road in Mount Kisco — a 10,000-square foot, 1920s farmhouse that was fully renovated in 2007 to be a model of “eco-friendly” building. Mary, an architect who gave up her career to raise her family, took charge of every detail, one of her friends said. The 10.4-acre, $4 million estate boasts a museum-quality collection of presidential memorabilia that includes a Franklin Roosevelt campaign banner and Sen. Robert Kennedy’s collection of presidential signatures dating back to George Washington, friends and brokers said.

Kennedy and his first wife, Emily Ruth Black, bought the home in 1985, town records show. After they divorced in 1994, Mary paid Black $500,000 and became a co-owner of the house with Kennedy. Records show a $500,000 home equity line on the house. “She was going to have to leave her home, the home that she built and made completely eco-friendly, and where would she go?” another friend said. Mary also felt publicly embarrassed as Kennedy carried on his high-profile romance with “Curb Your Enthusiasm” star Hines, sources said. “She faced losing her kids, and his relationship with Cheryl Hines was humiliating. At an event last month, he walked the red carpet with Cheryl as a couple and took the kids,” a source said of the Riverkeeper Annual Fisherman’s Ball in late April.

“She loved him. Her family and her home [were] her heart and soul,” the first family friend said. “Even after they separated, she was pretending everything was fine. She’d still call him her husband. It was bizarre and sad.” Their children — Conor, 18, Kyra, 17, William, 15, and 11-year-old Aiden — were not at home when their mother hanged herself. Kennedy stopped briefly at the estate yesterday before returning to join family and friends at a two-story manse about a mile away, where he has been living with the couple’s two youngest kids while the older ones are away at school.

 

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By DAREH GREGORIAN, EMILY SMITH and BOB FREDERICKS

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