July 16, 2024

*Hat Tip: Phil King

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has been accused of sexual assault by a former family babysitter in a Vanity Fair profile of the independent presidential candidate published on Tuesday.

The incident occurred in 1999 when the woman, Eliza Cooney, then in her 20s, says a 45-year-old Kennedy came up behind her in the kitchen of his Mount Kisco, N.Y., home and groped her hips, rib cage and breasts.

“My back was to the door of the pantry, and he came up behind me,” Cooney told Vanity Fair. “I was frozen. Shocked.”

Kennedy’s campaign did not comment in the Vanity Fair story and referred Spectrum News to a social media post from Kennedy addressing a separate part of the article involving a photo of him posing with a dead animal, but did not address the sexual assault allegation after multiple requests for comment. Cooney could not immediately be reached for comment. 

“The article is a lot of garbage,” Kennedy said on the online political show “Breaking Points” on Tuesday. “In terms of the other allegations, listen, I’ve said this from the beginning: I’m not a church boy. I’m not running like that. I said in my — I had a very, very rambunctious youth. I said in my announcement speech that I have so many skeletons in my closet that if they could all vote, I could run for king of the world.”

“Vanity Fair is recycling 30-year-old stories, and I’m not going to comment on the details of any of them, but, you know, I am who I am,” he added.

When pressed by host Saagar Enjeti if he denied Cooney’s allegation of sexual assault specifically, Kennedy said, “I’m not going to comment on it.”

Cooney had documented in her diary a previous incident of Kennedy rubbing her leg at the time and told her mother about the 1999 incident in 2017, according to the article.

“From everything everybody says about the Kennedys + their Babysitters, they had me worried. Like I have to watch out, be careful. And the other night in the kitchen w/ Murray I could have sworn he was touching my leg + hand,” Cooney wrote, according to Vanity Fair. “It seemed like he thought I was somebody else or wasn’t paying attention. Like he would come to every once in a while and snap out of it or I would move away. It was like he was on something or really tired or was missing [his then-wife] Mary [Richardson] or was testing me.”

In 2023, Cooney told former federal prosecutor Elizabeth Geddes, who helped lead the prosecution of musician R. Kelly, about her allegation. She was advised to bring a civil suit against Kennedy. Cooney declined to do so and ultimately came forward to Vanity Fair because of Kennedy’s presidential run, she told the magazine.

In a separate incident around the same time, Cooney says Kennedy asked her to rub lotion on his back. 

“It was totally inappropriate,” Cooney said, noting she stopped recording the incidents in her diary after one day finding Kennedy in her bedroom near her open diary. 

The Vanity Fair story also includes allegations that Kennedy would text friends images of naked women that the recipients were unsure if they were taken and sent with consent of the subjects.

Kennedy, the son of New York Sen. Robert F. Kennedy and nephew of President John F. Kennedy, launched a presidential run last year, initially challenging President Joe Biden in the Democratic primary before opting to run as an independent candidate. The longtime environmental lawyer and anti-vaccine crusader has gained more traction than most independent presidential candidates in modern U.S. history, but is hovering around 9% in national polls, according to polling aggregator FiveThirtyEight. The campaigns of both Biden and former President Donald Trump have attacked him as they fear he will draw support from them in key swing states in November.

Kennedy claims to have secured ballot access in eight states and has collected enough signatures to gain ballot access in 18 others, but state election officials told the Washington Post last month he is only officially on the ballot in five states.

Many members of Kennedy’s family have publicly denounced his candidacy over his anti-vaccine views, conspiracy theories and the threat he poses to Biden’s candidacy. 

Kennedy is not alone among presidential candidates with allegations of sexual misconduct. Trump has faced numerous allegations of rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment during his decades of public life and was found liable for sexual abuse of columnist E. Jean Carroll in the 1990s by a New York jury last year. Biden faced an allegation of sexual assault during the 2020 presidential campaign by a former congressional aide who worked for him in the 1990s, but the claim has never been corroborated and the aide, Tara Reade, defected to Russia last year.

Both Biden and Trump have denied the separate allegations.

The Vanity Fair article includes other damning details about Kennedy’s life and career, including his previously-documented role in a deadly measles outbreak in the Pacific island nation of Samoa and new reporting on a photo of Kennedy in 2010 posing with what a veterinarian told the magazine appears to be a barbecued dog.

When reached for comment, the Kennedy campaign referred Spectrum News to a social media post from the candidate insisting the photo was of him posing with a goat carcass, not a dog. 

“Hey [Vanity Fair], you know when your veterinary experts call a goat a dog, and your forensic experts say a photo taken in Patagonia was taken in Korea, that you’ve joined the ranks of supermarket tabloids,” Kennedy wrote on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. “Keep telling America that up is down if you want. I’ll keep talking about the fact that working families can’t afford houses or groceries because our last two presidents went on a $14 trillion debt joyride, paid for by hard-working Americans.”

“The [Democratic National Committee] media’s garbage pail journalism may distract us from President Biden’s cognitive deficits but it does little to elevate the national debate or reduce the price of groceries,” he continued.

Source: https://ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/news/2024/07/02/rfk-kennedy-sexual-assault-vanity-fair-dog

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