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Crime History: Kennedy pleads guilty in Chappaquiddick incident

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Local,Crime,Naomi Jagoda

On this day, July 25, in 1969, Ted Kennedy pleaded guilty to leaving in the scene of an accident, following the death of 28-year-old Mary Jo Kopechne.

A week earlier -- after leaving a party on Chappaquiddick Island, off Martha's Vineyard -- the car Kennedy was driving went off a bridge and overturned in water. The 37-year-old married U.S. senator from Massachusetts escaped, but Kopechne did not.

Kennedy did not report the crash to police until hours after it occurred. He received a two-month suspended jail sentence.

After pleading guilty, Kennedy gave a televised address in which he denied having a "private relationship" with Kopechne or having been "driving under the influence of liquor." He also said he attempted to save her.

The Chappaquiddick incident became an issue during Kennedy's unsuccessful 1980 presidential campaign, but he remained in the Senate until his death in 2009.

njagoda@washingtonexaminer.com

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