The first time Kirk Lemoyne 'Lem' Billings was introduced to Bobby Kennedy Jr.the two spent several hours alone in the boy's room at fabled Hickory Hill, Robert and Ethel Kennedy's historic, sprawling estate, in bucolic Mc Lean, Virginia.
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After RFK's death, Ethel turned to Billings to be the caretaker of her vexatious son Bobby had believed Billings' every word.
When a Harvard classmate asked Bobby whether such talk had any reality, whether he seriously thought he could win a presidential election and be the second Kennedy to rule the country, Bobby's response was: 'I feel that is my destiny.'In what was later viewed as a twisted relationship, Billings was pumping up Bobby for a high political future at the same time he was sharing drugs with him, from marijuana to heroin through their years together.
Billings had even begun calling Bobby 'Jack' by mistake, and Billings had instructed one of Bobby's close cousins, Christopher Kennedy Lawford, also a drug abuser at the time, to be to Bobby what RFK had been to JFK. For Billings, a year older than the future president, it was love at first sight and from the instant they met Billings was sexually attracted to the handsome scion of America's so-called royal family. Quirk, claimed that Billings, whom he met in 1946 when both worked in Jack Kennedy's first congressional campaign, had confided to him that their relationship did, in fact, involve sex acts— 'a friendship that included oral sex, with Jack always on the receiving end.'Quirk, who acknowledged his own bisexuality, asserted that Billings 'believed that this arrangement enabled Jack to sustain his self-delusion that straight men who received oral sex from other males were really only straights looking for sexual release.'All the Kennedys were very much aware of Billings's sexual preference, or suspected it, accepted it, and welcomed him into their exclusive inner circle - practically adopted him - although the patriarch Joe Kennedy found him annoying at times.
When Jack Kennedy and Billings were at Choate and later, when they were seemingly joined at the hip at Princeton for a time before Kennedy transferred to Harvard at his father's behest, Billings always accompanied him home on vacations.
Since she considered young Bobby the most difficult and troublesome of her seven sons and three daughters (with another child – the daughter Rory -- due at any moment), she decided to hand him off to Lem Billings, and moreover, sent him far away to boarding school, in the rural Hudson Valley of New York State.
Millbrook School would be the first of three schools that Bobby would attend before he was able to secure a high school diploma.
He'd be expelled from Millbrook and later be ordered to leave the second school, Pomfret, in rural Connecticut, for using drugs and displaying bad, often bizarre behavior.'He was coming up and he was taking Bobby out to dinner and things like that.
His appearances were unusual in that you never knew when he was going to show up.
Rose Kennedy, however, had a different, more positive view of Billings. He has really been part of "our family" since that first time he showed up at our house as one of "Jack's surprises".' About the odd Kennedy–Billings relationship, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, one of JFK's five sisters, once remarked: 'It's hard to describe it as just friendship; it was a complete liberation of the spirit.
In her memoir, published eleven years after the first Kennedy assassination, she wrote that Billings had 'remained Jack's lifelong close friend, confidante, sharer in old memories and new experiences . President Kennedy was a completely liberated man when he was with Lem.'While the Kennedy family had accepted Billings into their inner circle because of his tight friendship with JFK, Ethel Kennedy's family, the scandalous Republican Skakels of Greenwich, Connecticut, weren't so accepting.
Ethel virtually abandoned 14-year-old Bobby after RFK's assassination in 1968, suddenly and inexplicably turning over his care, feeding and education to Lem Billings.