From the Archives: Kennedy to face court after Chappaquiddick Island accident – Sydney Morning Herald
It is not yet known whether the hearing will proceed when Senator Kennedy appears today, or whether it will be adjourned.
Mr Clark refused to answer questions, but read this statement:
“At the request of Edward M. Kennedy, a written waiver ot the request to he heard in objection to the issuance of the complaint will be filed with the Clerk of the District Court of Duke’s County tomorrow, Friday, morning.
“Upon filing of this written waiver, it is assumed that in the normal course of events the clerk will issue the complaint requested by the Commonwealth. Mr Kennedy will he present, in Edgartown tomorrow, Friday, morning, July 25, I960, to accept service of this complaint.
Mr John N. Farrar, a scuba diver, indicates where he recovered the body of Senator Kennedy’s passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne.
“It is also assumed that in the normal course of events, an arraignment on the charge contained in the complaint will be held at the District Court at 9am and Mr Kennedy will be present at such arraignment.
Last night’s shock development came after a day of meetings between powerful friends, relatives and advisers of the Kennedy clan, at the family compound at Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, designed to save the career of Senator Kennedy.
Newsmen had heen expecting a statement on the accident in which Miss Kopechne, a Kennedy campaign worker, died when Senator Kennedy’s car ran off a bridge and landed upside down in a saltwater inlet after a campaign workers’ party on Chappaquiddick Island, Massachusetts, last Friday night.
Senator Kennedy did not report the accident until almost nine hours later.
After Miss Kopechne’s funeral on Tuesday, Senator Kennedy said he would make a statement about the accident “at an appropriate time.”
Since then he has remained silent and in seclusion with relatives and key advisers in the closely guarded compound, as demands for a fuller explanation of the accident mount.
An early runner in the 196th presidential campaign, George Romney, now the Housing and Urban Development Secretary, said yesterday: “It is quite clear Senator Kennedy has not adequately explained the accident.”
It was the first public comment by a senior official in the Nixon administration.
Among the powerful figures who met at the Kennedy compound at Hyannis Port yesterday, were the president of the World Bank and former Secretary of Defence, Mr Robert McNamara, President John Kennedy’s former speech writer and special counsel, Mr Theodore Sorensen, a former Assistant Attorney-General in the Kennedy administration, Mr Burke Marshall, and Senator Kennedy’s brother-in-law, Mr Stephen Smith, who directed the Presidential campaign’s of the late John and the late Robert Kennedy.
These men are at the head of a high-powered task force which deliberated yesterday on a statement, and how to proceed on Senator Kennedy’s charge.
With a week almost passed the senator and his advisers are well aware that his once brilliant political future now hangs in the balance, and the public waits far a fuller explanation on why he did not report the accident for so long.
In another development earlier yesterday, local authorities investigating the accident in Edgartown, announced that the twice-daily news briefings on the investigation would end.
The police chief, Mr Dominic Arena, said he had decided to discontinue the briefings after advice from “a few people high up in the law enforcement ranks.”
Reports claim that one of those who gave this advice is the Democrat State Attorney-General, Robert H. Quinn, who was unavailable for comment today.
Mr Arena said he had received advice to stop making public statements which could prejudice the prosecution’s case.
He said the charge against Senator Kennedy “could be thrown out on a technicality” if he continued to answer newsmen’s questions.
Meanwhile, questions have arisen over the decision not to perform an autopsy on Miss Kopechne’s body.
The medical examiner who handled the case, Dr Donald R. Mills, has been quoted as saying that the final decision not to perform an autopsy was made by State Police Lieutenant George Killen, attached to the District Attorney’s Office.
The Chief Medical Examiner of the area, Dr Robert R. Nevin, who was off duty on the day of the accident, said an autopsy would definitely have been held if he had handled the case.
Senator Kennedy pleaded guilty to a charge of leaving the scene of an accident. He received a two-month suspended jail sentence. He didn’t resign from the Senate but announced that he would not run for president in 1972 campaign. There was a private inquest (at Sen. Kennedy’s request) into the death of Mary Jo Kopechne.