Larry Mendte’s Life After “It” Happened
THIS IS THE STORY of rebuilding a life after “it” happens. The “it” is almost irrelevant; “it” comes in many disguises, though it’s always ugly and always unexpected. “It” is a tragic event that destroys the life you once knew and forces you to build a new one. Mine is just one story of millions, unique in its details but all too common in its consequence.
My “it” was self-inflicted and has been well documented. I was a successful television news anchor married to another successful television news anchor, Dawn Stensland of Fox 29. Our combined salaries were well over a million dollars a year. We lived with our beautiful children in a beautiful house and enjoyed a worry-free, beautiful life. Until “it” knocked on our front door — along with the FBI.
The details of that story — the scandal, lies, self-reflection, abuse of power, media malpractice and courtroom drama — only I can tell. And I look forward to telling it — someday — but not now. That is the story of “it,” and this is the story of “post-it.”
FROM THE MOMENT THE FBI arrived that day in May 2008, I knew I had to get past “it” as quickly as possible. They told me I was being investigated for looking at the e-mails of my former CBS 3 co-anchor, Alycia Lane. Immediately, I was barraged by media requests. “The Today Show,” “Good Morning America,” “20/20,” even “Dr. Phil” called, all asking for interviews. A parade of local TV reporters knocked on my door and called the house. Station managers exploited personal relationships and had reporters and anchors with whom I was friendly make the requests. I admit I felt for them as they stood on our welcome mat and apologized to my wife for being there.
But my only priority was — and still is — the well-being of my two youngest children, Michael and David (at the time, ages four and two, respectively). The longer “it” went on, I knew, the more they would suffer. So just six embarrassing, grueling and frustrating months after the FBI came to my home, I pleaded guilty. In the world of federal justice, that may be a record.
During that time, I also heard from entertainment attorneys and literary agents about movie and book rights to my story. This was tempting because there was money attached. But I just kept thinking of my children as teenagers having to suffer through a movie starring someone like Corbin Bernsen as their dad, sitting in the dark in his underwear in front of a computer. It was terrifying. I passed.