Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mary Jo Kopechne

I posted this on Facebook on August 27th, 2009.
I got it off a website but can't recall which.

For those readers unfamiliar with the events at Chappaquiddick Island, Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts in 1969, here are the salient facts:
After a party on the island, Senator Edward Kennedy was driving a young staff worker, Mary Jo Kopechne somewhere late that night. He later said he was driving her to her hotel. She had, however, left her hotel key and pocketbook at the party.

Kennedy drove off the bridge to the mainland and plunged the car into the Poucha Pond inlet.

Kennedy managed to extricate himself with the car which was filling up with water. He later claimed that he had tried swimming to the car several times. Instead of immediately notifying the police he called a "Kennedy advisor." Kennedy spent the rest of that night huddled with "Kennedy advisors" to come up with a story. Later, Kennedy and two "Kennedy advisors" went to the scene of the accident and tried to swim to reach the car. None of the men thought they should notify the police.

Later Kennedy went back to his hotel room where he complained during the night that he couldn't sleep because of a loud party. That next morning Kennedy chatted with the winner of a sailboat race. Then Kennedy met with the same two "Kennedy advisors." The three men then went back to the scene of the accident. Still no one called the police. Using a pay phone there, Kennedy did call friends asking for advice.

Around that time fishermen had spotted the car in the water and called the police. A police diver later testified that, "Had I received a call within five to ten minutes of the accident occurring, and was able, as I was the following morning, to be at the victim's side within twenty-five minutes of receiving the call, in such event there is a strong possibility that she would have been alive on removal from the submerged car"

Kennedy who was standing nearby at a pay phone and saw the police had discovered the body. The police had run the license plate and discovered that the car belonged to Kennedy.

At around 10:00 AM Kennedy presented himself (with "Kennedy advisors") at the police station.

By the time he presented himself to the police a sobriety test was impossible.

The judge at the inquest decided that some of Kennedy's testimony about the events that night were lies. Nevertheless Kennedy was not prosecuted for anything more than leaving the scene of an accident. He got a two-month suspended sentence. The judge said that Kennedy had an "unblemished record" and that he had "been, and will continue to be punished far beyond anything this court can impose."

A man whose shtick was about fairness and equality was only too happy to be treated by Massachusetts officials in a manner no person not named Kennedy would be treated. The rest of us would have been sent to jail for criminally negligent homicide (at the least).

July 18, 2009 was the 40th anniversary of Mary Jo Kopechne's homicide. She would have been 68 today.

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