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How RFK Jr. Framed Al Hasbrouck
September 12, 2016
The black man who Robert Kennedy, Jr. falsely accused of killing Martha Moxley in Greenwich, Connecticut, because he “was obsessed” with the teenager’s “beautiful blonde hair” says he never met her and was not in Greenwich the night of her 1975 slaying.
“It’s affected me mentally and physically,” says Adolph (Al) Hasbrouck, who broke his 13-year silence since Kennedy first singled him out, and spoke in his lawyer’s New York City office. “I see people looking at me. There is a change in attitude when they hear my name. People drive by my house. They park in my driveway. They knock on my door. They camp outside for hours. Before I enter my house, I look to see if anybody is lurking. I keep my curtains drawn so people can’t look inside. I can’t sit out in my backyard. My wife gets physically sick whenever this comes up. There is nothing as devastating as being called a murderer.”
He asked that his picture not appear in this article.
Martha was 15 when she was beaten to death with a golf club, a killing that drew national headlines and that 40 years later has not been resolved. Investigators described her death as “overkill,” implying a personal rage and indicating that the killer knew her. The murder weapon was matched to a set of clubs found the next day in the home of Martha’s neighbor, Rushton Skakel, the brother of Ethel Kennedy. In 2002, Rushton’s son Michael, who is Robert Kennedy Jr.’s first cousin, was convicted of Martha’s murder and served 11 years in prison.
In his recently published book, “Framed: Why Michael Skakel Spent Over a Decade in Prison For a Murder He Didn’t Commit,” Kennedy maintains that Hasbrouck and a friend from the Bronx, Burton Tinsley, are Martha’s killers. “Using the evidence I have cited in this book,” Kennedy writes, “prosecutors have sufficient cause to indict Burton Tinsley and Adolph Hasbrouck for Martha Moxley’s murder.”
Hasbrouck grew up in the South Bronx in the 1970s. “My mother and family were strong. My mother taught me character, integrity. That’s how I have conducted my life.” He graduated from Charles Evans Hughes High School in Manhattan, served three years in the U.S. Army, then graduated from SUNY’s The College at Brockport in 1990. Now 56, he has been married for 20 years, has a grown daughter and lives in Bridgeport, Connecticut. For the past 15 years, he has worked as a network operations supervisor at ABC in New York.
“Then in 2003 along comes a telephone call from Bobby Kennedy. Do I know Martha Moxley? I tell him I never met her. He asks, do I know Tony Bryant? Yes, I say, I knew Tony Bryant. He asked for Burt’s Tinsley’s telephone number and asked if it was possible that we talk again. I thought nothing of it. I had no indication of his plan to use me as a scapegoat in his cousin’s defense.”
Kennedy bases his allegations against Hasbrouck on the word of Bryant, who Kennedy describes as a cousin to the basketball star Kobe Bryant. Bryant came to Kennedy’s attention after Kennedy wrote an article in 2003 in the Atlantic Monthly. In the article, Kennedy maintains that Kenneth Littleton, a tutor who had moved into the Skakel house the night of the murder but who had never met Martha, was a more likely suspect than Skakel.
Bryant had attended a private school with Skakel in Greenwich, then moved to the Bronx where he met Hasbrouck and Tinsley. He often returned to Greenwich and brought Hasbrouck and Tinsley with him.
Bryant told Kennedy that he, Hasbrouck and Tinsley had been in Greenwich the night of Martha’s killing and that Hasbrouck and Tinsley were “inebriated and out of control.” A day or two later, Kennedy writes, Hasbrouck and Tinsley confessed to Bryant they had killed Martha.
Bryant refused to repeat his story under oath to Connecticut authorities and no one has corroborated his claims.
In 1993, Bryant was convicted of participating in an armed robbery/home invasion in California in which he claimed to have been kidnapped. He was fired by a Texas law firm after the firm discovered Bryant hadn’t passed the bar as he had claimed. Last year, he pleaded guilty in Virginia to underreporting millions of dollars in his tobacco importing company, resulting in a $6 million tax liability.
In 2007, Skakel sought a new trial based on Bryant’s claims. Connecticut Judge Edward Karazin ruled they “lacked credibility” and are “absent any genuine corroboration.”
In 2013, Connecticut Judge Thomas Bishop granted Skakel a new trial, ruling his lawyer was incompetent. Of Bryant, Bishop said his “trail of deceit would likely erode any confidence in Bryant’s credibility.”
Hasbrouck says that the first time he learned of Kennedy's allegations, “I was taking the train to the city to work. I made it to the bathroom in Grand Central and threw up. They always blame the black guy. It’s like Charles Stewart or Susan Smith.” In 1989 Stuart, who lived in Boston, killed his wife and said a black man did it, setting off a citywide search. He committed suicide after his brother told police Stuart had killed his wife for insurance money. Smith, in South Carolina, drowned her two small children and said a black man had carjacked her car and kidnapped them. She is serving a life sentence in prison.
Because of his name, Kennedy’s book has received lots of media attention. In interviews, he has stated that if Hasbrouck and Tinsley are innocent they should sue him for libel.
“I don’t have the time or funds to fight this,” says Hasbrouck. “And it is twisting my gut. Who could imagine this could happen to you? You can’t throw innocent people under the bus because it suits him. Somebody has to call him to account.”
Copyright © 2016 Leonard Levitt