Dawn’s Dark Days

As her husband, Larry Mendte, was pleading guilty to federal cyber crimes and telling the world he’d had an “improper” relationship with Alycia Lane, Fox 29 anchor Dawn Stensland had to hold it together so she could report the news every night on TV. Now, in an exclusive interview, Stensland speaks out about the e-mails she discovered, her recent miscarriage, why she’s been able to forgive her husband, and why she can’t yet forgive herself

From the very start, they knew “we had something for each other,” she says, but nothing came of it. Larry was married, though going through some tough times with his wife, and Dawn would never have interfered. She was raised as a Bible Belt Christian, after all, and was just a child when she was born again at Bay Leaf Baptist Church in Raleigh, North Carolina, dunk tank and all. But when Larry’s marriage fell apart, the two started calling each other. By then, Dawn was anchoring in Cleveland, and Larry was hosting Access Hollywood in Los Angeles, while taking care of Jonathan, then 12, who had moved there with him, while Stacia was in Philly with her mom. Pretty soon, Dawn started flying out to L.A. to visit. Then, in 1997, after Larry had become main anchor at Channel 10 in Philadelphia — his hometown — she moved here, too, to be an anchor at CBS 3.

Larry moved into the house Dawn picked out for them to live in when they got married, a manse on Bells Mill Road in Chestnut Hill, with a wrought iron gate out front and woods out back and a 250-year-old scarlet oak in the yard, which Dawn loved most of all. But until they exchanged vows at St. Philomena’s in Lansdowne on June 10, 2000, Dawn stayed in her apartment in Lafayette Hill. She was taking the stepmother role very seriously, not wanting to set a bad example for Larry’s kids.

“I knew that if I made a commitment to this man, I was making a commitment to Jonathan and Stacia as well,” Dawn says. Plus, they were the only children she thought she’d ever have. Years earlier, after being diagnosed with severe uterine fibroids, she was told she might not be able to get pregnant. That didn’t stop her and Larry from trying, eventually resorting to fertility treatments for a year, to no avail. When she started taking Clomid, she got pregnant, only to be crushed by a miscarriage not long after. What’s wrong with me? she thought. In the summer of 2003, they decided to try in vitro. It worked.

The timing couldn’t have been better. Dawn had already moved from CBS to anchor at Fox 29, in 2001, but now Larry was making a big career move himself — leaving his sweet main anchor gig at NBC 10 to kick off a new regime at CBS 3. He’d be the experienced Philly-born newsman coupled on the anchor desk with a “smokin’ Latina bombshell,” as the media described Alycia Lane, the new girl in town. She was also in the final stages of a divorce. The Mendte/Lane dream team debuted on CBS on September 15, 2003.

At first, when Larry started coming home from work late, Dawn didn’t think anything of it, though in six years of doing the 11 o’clock broadcast at NBC with co-anchor Renee Chenault Fattah, “He was always home before midnight.” She figured he was just working hard, as he was known to do. Plus, whenever she asked, he’d tell her, “The post-show meeting went late,” or “Everyone went out after work.” But as the fall of 2003 wore on, his schedule never let up. He was spending more and more time at work, coming home later and later. Dawn figured he was pulling away from her because she was so focused on her pregnancy, which had become extremely painful due to her fibroids; by this point, one had grown to the size of a melon.

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  • Deni

    Larry Mendte should be ashamed of himself for allowing his wife to publicize her private thoughts. He has stooped to a new low. No decent, loving husband would let his wife demean herself in such a fashion.Prior to this article, I felt sorry for Dawn. Now I feel nothing but disgust.Grow a backbone Dawn.

  • p

    I don't believe it. I'm sorry Dawn but Larry sold you a bill of goods, they kissed? No freakin way. He lies and is sneaky and to keep making Alycia Lane a part of this like somehow its her fault Larry is nuts its so wrong.
    Show me the emails she was flirting with your husband…

  • M

    I just finished reading the article "Dawn's Dark Days". Unlike one of the previous comments, I didn't find the article demeaning to Ms. Stensland in any way. I just found it to be a well written narrative by the author of Ms. Stensland's feelings regarding her husband's affair and crime. I don't think it should be up to Larry to "allow" his wife to publicize anything. It's HER prerogative to do so if she wishes. I do agree with the previous reader that Larry "sold her a bill of goods" regarding the limits of his relationship with Alycia Lane. However, overall I find Ms. Stensland to be the only victim in this scenario between the relationships. The invasion of email is another matter. Larry Mendte is admittedly guilty and now paying the price. I find both he and Alycia Lane are both egomaniacs who want press when it's GOOD press and want "privacy" when it's BAD press. At least Mr. Mendte admitted guilt and is moving on. Ms. Lane should come out of her cocoon of pretending t

  • M

    to crave privacy (after showing up on Dr. Phil regarding her first divorce and discussing her wedding gown purchase for her short lived second marriage on the news) and get on with her life. I'll be anxious to see how much "privacy" she seeks in the future.

    Would be nice if the comment feature had a auto stop when 200 words are reached. :o)

  • muriel

    Dawn, Stop kicking yourself and kick him…OUT!! You and your children deserve better!

  • paline

    I Dawn showed real class on what she did. And to the people who have never been married or other wise, lay off and get a life! Larry and Dawn made a wedding vow( you know " for better or worse") does that ring anybodies bell?! Ask anyone who has been through it before and are still married.

    And not just famous people (real ordinary people as well). So don't judge a book by it's cover.

  • Jenn

    I too felt so sorry for Dawn when this story began to break but now, after reading this article, I can't help but feel disappointed in Dawn. I am always so shocked when I see women stand by their men after being publicly humiliated. (E.g. Dina Matos-McGreevey and the like.) How can you just stand back when you know full well that your husband is cheating and making a fool of you? I'm not saying she had to leave him but at least confront him. I just don't get it.

  • JUDY

    I REALLY DONT THINK THAT THERE IS A WOMAN OUT HERE NOW A DAYS WHO HAVE NOT BEEN THROUGH SO FORM OF A CHEATING BOYFRIEND HUSBAND ETC AND HAVE TAKEN THEM BACK NO MATTER WHAT THE CIRCUMSTANCES ARE..JUST BECAUSE THEY ARE IN THE LIMELIGHT OTHERS SAY SHE SHOULD LEAVE HIM WHAT ABOUT THOSE WHO ARE NOT BUT TO BE HUMILIATED WHEN FRIENDS AND FAMILY KNOW LEAVE DAWN ALONE SHE KNOWS WHAT SHE IS DOING WITH HER HUSBAND AND THE CRAP HE TOOK HER THROUGH…

  • laura

    typical "christian" hypocrisy. so she thinks that a man who was already cheating (doesn't matter whether sex was or was not involved) when they met would not turn around and do the same to her at some point? women are so naive. newsflash: every man when given the opportunity will take the bait. if you don't think so, you are truly in denial.

  • harry

    I just read the article and first of all, Dawn tells the public, way too much information. Dawn you can't be that dumb! Just like the Andy Reed (coach of the Eagles) story, keep your family matters private. There was no need to hang your "dirty laundry" out in public. I think Dawn is a fool for not realizing what was going on. Not to mention when Larry bought the expensive gift for Alycia. Dawn get with it, Larry is a dog and always will be. You can do better and you should cut your losses now!

  • Patrick

    Dawn you married your stalker and know he is stalking someone else.

  • Levi

    I totally support Ms. Stensland and will hold my tongue about Mr. Mendte because Ms. Stensland loves him. I love you, Ms. Stensland (giggling.)

  • Blake

    Dawn Stensland is not the strong woman she portrays herself as. She has no respect for herself. You dont make a life commitment with someone in having a child when that other person can’t commit to you. I feel bad for weak people like this. And she justifies herself because of the love she has for him… Funny, where was his love for her during those late nights?

  • Kathleen

    Just heard your contract has not been renewed. Sorry to hear another piece of bad news. You ae a strong woman and I’m sure things will work out for you. My husband left me after 24 years fo marriage and three children. He found someone younger. After 18 years with the second wife…he found someone even younger. Sometimes an old dog is just that…an old dog. God bless you.

  • Lisa

    I met you several years ago at a day spa and I thought you were as nice as you appear on TV. I enjoyed watching you on FOX (you and Huddleston were my favorite news team). I can’t believe they didn’t renew your contract and I hope you can find another home here in Philly. And your personal life is your personal life but I guess when you’re on TV, nothing is personal anymore. Best wishes for whatever life brings your way. You’re fantastic!

  • tierell

    Hi Dawn they say GOD don’t get u thing u can’t bear I think u will be fine. U will be in my prays.

  • NANCY

    I NEVER REALIZED THAT DAWN WAS SUCH A GOOD CHRISTIAN AND THAT THAT WAS THE BASIS OF HER
    FORGIVENESS OF LARRY. BOY, IT MUST BE VERY HARD
    TO FIND OUT THAT YOUR HUSBAND OF LESS THAN THREE
    YEARS, AND YOU’RE PREGNANT, THAT HE IS FOOLING
    AROUND WITH HIS ANCHOR. SOOOOOOOOOO PUBLIC AND
    ALL. I REALLY ADMIRE HER FOR HER DECISION TO
    FORGIVE LARRY AND TO KEEP HER FAMILY IN TACT. H IS
    GROWN CHILDREN SHOULD BE VERY PROUD OF DAWN AND THE
    PERSON THAT SHE REALLY IS. IS LARRY FINISHED OR
    IS THERE A FUTURE FOR HIM IN THE NEWS BUSINESS?
    ANY FUTURE EMPLOYER WILL HAVE A HARD TIME TRUSTING
    HIM, I’M SURE, BUT THE BEST TO THE MENDTE FAMILY
    FOR PERSERVERING. YOU’D BETTER APPRECIATE HER,
    LARRY.

  • Falcone
  • Joanne

    As a Chicagoan who remembers both of these reporters, I am actually shocked that the beautiful, talented Dawn Stensland, who had a lovely presence on camera, ever got hooked up with that strange Larry Mendte.

  • Anne

    You are too good for your HUSBAND.Leave him nobody else would want or take him. Not even on a BET

  • Tara

    The women’s movement has struggled for more than a century against such emotional abuse by men. I would have expected more from an educated woman in this day and age. Ms. Stensland’s refusal to deal with her situation shows weakness and dependence, not strength and dignity. Like many abused women, she is unable (emotionally) to leave her abuser and, indeed, apparently does not even recognize that she is being abused. And, it is unbelievable that her arrogant husband is back on the air giving, of all things, relationship advice related to the Tiger Woods scandal!! Really, Larry??

  • Dan

    I read this article and came away embarrassed for Dawn. This woman sounds like a complete pushover. I can almost guarantee with a weak-willed woman like this, he’ll cheat again. Wake up Dawn!

  • Lord,R.C.Q.K.T.N.W. TAINAAN, III

    MRS. STENSLAND IS A LADY OF GRACE, AND CLASS, AND I SUPORT HER