RFK Jr. says he has 'skeletons in my closet' after sexual assault allegation

FILE PHOTO: Robert F. Kennedy addresses the Libertarian Party’s national convention in Washington

By Stephanie Kelly

NEW YORK (Reuters) -Independent U.S. presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said on Tuesday he has "so many skeletons in my closet," when asked about an allegation in a Vanity Fair article that he sexually assaulted a former family babysitter.

Kennedy also denied a picture of him posing with the barbecued carcass of a large animal - which Vanity Fair said appeared to be a dog - belonged to a canine. He said it was the carcass of a goat.

Vanity Fair said Kennedy texted the photo to a friend last year, saying the friend might enjoy a restaurant in Korea that served dog on the menu.

"Hey @VanityFair," Kennedy wrote on social media platform X, "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."

The photo was taken in 2010, according to the digital file's metadata, the article said, the same year Kennedy was diagnosed with a parasite in his brain. He has since fully recovered, his campaign has said.

Reuters was not able to independently confirm details of the photograph.

Kennedy, who is running in the Nov. 5 presidential election against Democratic incumbent Joe Biden and Republican contender Donald Trump, has been called a potential election "spoiler" by standing to take votes away from both major-party candidates.

The Vanity Fair article also said that in 1998 Kennedy and his then-wife Mary Richardson hired a 23-year-old woman, Eliza Cooney, as their part-time babysitter, who told the magazine that Kennedy groped her in the family kitchen.

Cooney told Reuters on Tuesday that the details in the Vanity Fair article on the assault were accurate.

When asked about the allegation, Kennedy told a podcast on Tuesday, "I am not a church boy."

"I had a very, very rambunctious youth," he told podcaster Saagar Enjeti. "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."

When pressed if he denied the sexual assault allegation, Kennedy said, "I'm not going to comment on it."

(Reporting by Stephanie Kelly; Editing by Heather Timmons and Deepa Babington)