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Auchincloss ostracized from Kennedy clan for years

Local supporters stand by prominent Ashlander
 Posted: 12:50 PM June 19, 2009

PORTLAND — James Auchincloss was just 6 years old when he carried the wedding train of his half-sister Jackie up the aisle as she married John F. Kennedy in 1953.

Now, more than 50 years later, the 62-year-old is under investigation, accused in affidavits by police of possessing child pornography. In October, police searched his home in Ashland, a college town on the California border with a rich tradition in the performing arts, which he has supported over the years.

No charges have been filed, but affidavits supporting the warrants say a large number of graphic images of young boys were seized. The affidavits were leaked to the Ashland Daily Tidings earlier this month, and the newspaper shared them with The Associated Press.

Friends and supporters doubt the accusations. They describe Auchincloss as a quiet, friendly man who regularly attends plays and stage productions, compiles video and film history of past presidents, and generally keeps a low profile despite his famous family ties.

But the affidavits and the man who tipped off police and triggered the investigation suggest another side to Auchincloss, called "Jamie" among friends.

Eddy McManus said he served as a personal assistant to Auchincloss for more than 15 years, helping him move to Oregon from Washington, D.C., in the mid-1990s.

The 44-year-old McManus told The Associated Press he left Auchincloss after repeatedly warning him against viewing or collecting child porn. McManus said he even hired a lawyer to warn another man to stop e-mailing pornography to Auchincloss.

McManus said he took care of nearly all the household chores for Auchincloss over the years, including sorting through his e-mail, which led to his discovery of the images last year.

"It's his secret shame," McManus said. "And it's been my private nightmare."

Repeated messages left for Auchincloss at his home and on his cell phone were not returned.

McManus said he pleaded with Auchincloss for months to avoid the man sending him the images.

"I tried to use humor and I told him, 'You hate orange, so you don't want to end up spending the rest of your life in an orange jumpsuit,'" McManus said.

According to some people who know the distinguished Auchincloss family, who made their money in oil and financing, James Auchincloss was considered something of a pariah by his half-sister, Jackie.

Various reasons have been given.

Kitty Kelley, who wrote a racy biography of Jackie titled "Jackie, Oh," believes Auchincloss was ostracized for serving as one of the better sources for the book.

In an e-mail, Kelley said Auchincloss was in the audience of a talk show a few years after the biography was published and Kelley was promoting another book.

"Jamie stood up, said he believed everything I had written was true" and "as a result of that book and everything he had told me, his sister never spoke to him again," Kelley said.

McManus offers another explanation for any ill will that may have existed between Jackie and her half brother.

He said Auchincloss confided that his fascination with young boys went back to his teenage years, and that Jackie banned Auchincloss from having contact with her son, John F. Kennedy Jr.

The Associated Press called other members of the Auchincloss family, but messages were not returned.

Auchincloss has a number of supporters in Ashland, including Gerald Cavanaugh, a retired University of California-Berkeley history professor and his wife, Ragan.

The couple has known Auchincloss for most of the time he has been in Ashland, and said he had been very active in the community, offering up his hillside home for scholarly seminars.

They and others are upset that the local newspaper published some of the content of the affidavits before the investigation was completed.

Gerald Cavanaugh said Auchincloss even confided in the couple after the search warrants were quietly served last October, but assured them there was nothing serious to worry about.

"He's been nothing but upright and supportive, and always straightforward," Gerald Cavanaugh said. Before the investigation, Auchincloss lived a life without "a tinge of scandal, not a hint," unlike others in the extended Kennedy family.

Police Chief Terry Holderness said he didn't know who leaked the affidavits, but they did not come from his department. The results of the investigation will go to the Jackson County district attorney's office to determine whether to seek a grand jury indictment, likely still weeks away. Holderness said the investigation has stretched across more than half a year partly because the computer forensics laboratory that serves Southern Oregon is overworked.

Kevin Chaffee, senior editor for Washington Life in Washington, D.C., said he's known Auchincloss for about 30 years, and said he remembers him as a man who was devoted to his mother while living in Washington, D.C., taking care of her as she suffered from Alzheimer's disease.

Chaffee said Auchincloss was a talented photographer, and especially liked taking pictures at art festivals. He said Auchincloss was also active in theater in the 1980s, and was "a very loyal and generous trustee and patron."

It's a similar description from Peter Alzado, producing artistic director of Oregon Stage Works in Ashland, who recently announced that Auchincloss was resigning from the theater's board to "devote his time to taking care of his personal matters."

Alzado said Auchincloss was quiet but active in a small town that welcomed him.

"The sense I get is he was a much loved and cared for member of the community, and people are sorry for his troubles," Alzado said.


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