Family physician who healed himself

MISSING PERSONS No.3 William Kennedy Smith

You are a visitor at the Mercy Hospital in Chicago and you spot a young doctor who seems vaguely familiar. You have seen him somewhere before. So you ask. He introduces himself: Doctor Smith. Dr William Smith. It means nothing.

But the young man, midway through his residency in the rehab department on the fifth floor, is being too modest. That is the name he goes by these days but the full version is William Kennedy Smith, nephew of the former president JFK and son of Jean Kennedy Smith, US ambassador to Ireland. The coyness has nothing to with Camelot but everything with Palm Beach.

It is more than three years since all of America became intimate with Mr Smith and especially with his activities on Good Friday night in 1991, when he was staying with his uncle, Senator Edward Kennedy, at the family compound in West Palm Beach. It was the night that Teddy got thirsty and awoke William to accompany him for a midnight drink at Au Bar, a nearby club.

It was what happened later that evening that won Mr Smith the notoriety he now flees. After leaving the bar he twice made love al fresco in the compound grounds to a woman who subsequently accused him of rape. The trial that followed introduced America to its new addiction: celebrity trials relayed live, gavel-to-gavel, into the nation's front rooms on cable television.

With the then nascent Court TV providing the cameras, the Smith trial provided real-life drama that seemed unsurpassable.There was the grass- stain evidence and the overwhelmingly poignant testimony of Teddy Kennedy.

Only now do we know that this was only a minor fix compared with what was to come: the Menendez trial, the Tonya Harding hearings, the Michael Jackson allegations and, playing right now - the OJ Simpson epic.

Mr Smith, who was acquitted, is probably grateful for that. When the lights were off him, he returned to trying to make it as the first Kennedy doctor. He completed a year's training in Albuquerque, New Mexico, before moving for a three-year residency at Mercy.

In Chicago he has chosen to specialise in the rehabilitation of patients in post-accident trauma, suffering from spinal injuries or paralysis. His social rehabilitation has not been without mishap.

In 1993 he was arrested after punching a bouncer outside a bar in Arlington, Virginia, after mistaking him for the friend of a man who had taunted him inside about the being "the rapist". He was given 100 days community service and last year settled with the bouncer for an undisclosed sum.

The incident was a set-back for a man who at about that time confided to a friend: "My family spent over a million dollars on my defence. But all anyone remembers is that I was involved in a rape. Nobody remembers that I was acquitted".

If acquittal does not erase such notoriety, time still may. Last month, he emerged briefly at the funeral of his grandmother, Rose Kennedy, in Massachusetts. Even the tab loids did nothing more than list his name among the mourners. There was no nudge-nudge from the editors: "Remember him?"

David Usborne

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
news
Sport
footballLive! Chelsea vs West Ham kicked off 10 Boxing Day matches, with Arsenal vs QPR closing the action
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
Sport
football
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketing Controller (Financial Services)

£70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all