Patrick Kennedy and the Jersey Girl

Two years ago, Patrick­ Kennedy, a troubled scion­ of America’s greatest­ political­ dynasty,­ walked into an Atlantic City ballroom­ and met a local schoolteacher who would become his wife. Now he’s reinventing­ himself—while living ­in his in-laws’ house in Absecon.­ An unconventional­ love story.


ON MARCH 31, 2010, PATRICK KENNEDY came to Atlantic City to give a speech.

In the previous nine months, he had buried both his father, Senator Edward Kennedy, and his aunt, Eunice Kennedy Shriver. While Ted had been his hero, it was his aunt’s stigma-busting work in children’s health and disability issues that had in part inspired his own powerful advocacy for mental health and addiction­ services, which he had personally relied upon. He had also just announced that after 16 years—most of his adult life—representing­ Rhode Island in Congress, he wouldn’t run for reelection. The Obama health-care plan, based on ideas Ted Kennedy had fought for throughout his career, had finally been passed. Patrick had gone to his father’s grave and left a handwritten note: “Dad, the unfinished business is done.”

Now, he had to figure out what to do next.

After the speech—the finale of a $125-a-plate fund-raiser at Caesars for the developmentally disabled—he was mobbed by folks wanting a Kennedy moment. Among them was a tall, beautiful 30-year-old junior-high-school history teacher from Absecon­ named Amy Petitgout. A recently single mom out for the first time since her separation, she was attending as a last-minute replacement­ for her father, a retired special-ed teacher and longtime local Democratic pol who had come down with a bad cold. She wanted an autograph for him.

As subtly as possible—which for Patrick isn’t very subtle at all—he hit on her. In the note to her father, he scribbled, “Sorry I missed you, but it was a pleasure meeting your beautiful daughter.” She beamed at him, then headed back into the throng of 250.

Patrick Kennedy is really bad at hiding his emotions. He’s tall, red-haired and freckled, with broody, distractible eyes and a smile that never quite turns all the way up, and his feelings are largely unmodulated and unfiltered. He lives on the brink of crying for joy or sadness, and being a Kennedy with a mood disorder, he usually has ample reason for both. So the 42-year-old lifelong­ bachelor did his best to appear placid as he carefully watched Amy Petitgout thread her way back to table 123.

“I had to play it cool,” he recalls, laughing. “I couldn’t beeline right over to her or they’d all say, ‘There goes that Kennedy, after the pretty girls.’ So I had to shake hands with all different kinds of people at different tables, trying not to make it too obvious.” When he finally reached her table, he diplomatically struck up a conversation with her mother first. But it was clear why he was there.

He told Amy that if she ever wanted to, you know, bring her class to Washington, he was still in Congress for a few more months and would be happy to show them around. As she was thinking that her school couldn’t afford anything like that, he handed her his card, relaying something that intrigued her.

“Please call me,” he said. “But pretend I called you first.”

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  • AWomanWithMorals

    He has a history of multiple drug addictions, alcohol addiction, a DUI, assaulting a female security guard and allegedly helped to cover up a rape. She’s a teacher who’s a single mom living with her parents in South Jersey. To a rational woman in her situation a man like him would be untouchable, especially because she has a young daughter. But he’s a Kennedy who saw an attractive woman 12 years his junior and as history has shown, the Kennedy clan always gets what they want. If he weren’t a Kennedy do you think he would have had a chance with her? Her daughter now gets to say that her step father’s a Kennedy instead of a criminal. Good job Amy!! By the way, my point is really brought home by her stating that she teaches history and was unaware of who he was. Really??

  • Pratt

    First, the comment above is insightful and true. We would like to add that there was so much left out of this piece that the reporter should be fired. Kennedy was involved with a friend of ours and he almost used and emotionally destroyed her. We wish someone tell the truth about him, talk about crimes…wait until the rest comes out, but she has made her deal with the devil–doubt she loves him so maybe they will learn how it feels to get

  • Gil

    Obviously, the writer did not know Kennedy. Another bought and paid for piece. Didn’t her wedding dress look a little tight?? Hard to believe she is barely showing now. I’m sure big bro Teddy + cousins laughed all the way to the alter. Patrick marries a NJ, waitress, school teacher, divorced with a child. Teddy marries a single, well bred Psychiatrist +read what they said about Vickie who had a pretty good CV–can just imagine what they think about this latest deal that Kennedy has done.But he plotted this out long before Dad’s passing.Kennedy tried this same thing in ’08-woman, divorced, little boy, separated, home in MD but she canned him. What about the other one we saw for so long- bet she is the one who got away– thank God for her. What a joke-AA-yeah we are hearing all those amends! And, we see you have not been home by 7:00 every night. Rem our trist in LA 2009, ask Mark or the PC girls, the coke helped if u no what we mean!Did you get to move in and ditch your secret 24hr shadowers? Read Bio about Joan to see Amy’s future except Patrick is…

  • amy

    If she had any common sense, instead of a gold-digging agenda, there is no way this couple would have fallen in “love”. She should have thought about her young daughter before marrying him. As the writer above pointed out, this man is now her step-father. Yes, he may have served in Congress but there’s no way he would have been in the position he was in if he wasn’t a Kennedy. Furthermore, there’s no way she would have married him if he wasn’t a Kennedy. Living in the same area Amy lives in I know first-hand that there are plenty of bachelors with a history of drug and alcohol abuse, psychotic disorders and criminal histories that are willing to marry an attractive, young woman like herself. Then again, maybe there’s something in him that she sees that we don’t see. Maybe she married him for his good looks or his family morals. She’ll have plenty of time to analyze their relationship while living in their new million dollar home in Brigantine Bay!!

    • MaryKate

      As I said below, I have similar issues to his but it seems on a smaller scale. I’m on the west coast, I only know who he is because of his disease(s) and his advocacy for people like us. Not knowing much about the Kennedy’s (other than his dad) I have empathy for him.

      I am not a sensible young woman – but I have enough sense not to chance going near him and giving birth to the second coming of Joan Kennedy.

      Unless this woman is a saint, I don’t see this ending well.

  • Alison

    You don’t even really know these two people .. From your comments sounds like you are perfect and can’t be happy for 2 people that have respect, admiration and LOVE between them. they are doing so good for people that have brain injurys, addictions , and mental problems …what are you doing ? Apparently you didn’t read that only positive comments welcome….keep living in your negative world …karma

  • MaryKate

    I have depression and anxiety disorder – likely bipolar II where in the anxiety is the mania. I have no insurance right know to get an official diagnosis.

    Two things struck me.

    1). I have never been addicted to anything other than maybe those maniacal shopping sprees

    2). If I went off my anti-depressants and xanax all hell would break loose.

    wait one more…

    3). I wouldn’t want to propagate his DNA which I gather to be worse than my own issues – to an innocent child. How can Amy live with doing that to her baby son?

  • Joseph’s Newbury St.Nov 1982,

    Why did J Seward Johnson, the noted Sculptor, re-name Beauty of Time and Space to Family Secrets?

  • Jean

    I actually thought he was my friend Patrick Kennedy but he isn’t. Doesn’t look like him at all. The comments I have read, well I would have been hard pressed to not comment on how bias things are on the surface of any ordeals people endure. We only get to read or hear ‘melted versions’ of things that occur or have happened. I was sorry in this instance he is not my friend Patrick, son of Annaliese. And quite right,, Patricks mother was a 3/4th generation german. So maybe this couple are happy. Best to them