Often when you see the word “forgiveness” in the title of a newspaper story profiling someone, you know that somewhere along the line the person being written about made some significant mistakes or committed some terrible deeds.
Such is the case with Lamar Hunt Jr., 59-year-old son of the founder of the American Football League and the Dallas Texans/Kansas City Chiefs.
Like almost everyone else in the Kansas City area, I greatly admired Hunt Sr. and appreciate what he did for Kansas City. I also got to meet him and spend an afternoon with him at Arrowhead Stadium in the course of writing a story about him.
I never knew a lot about his family background, however, and during the 35-plus years I was with The Star, the paper never delved deeply into his personal or family life. And that, typically, is the way The Star covers most high-profile people — keeping the emphasis on whatever dimension of people has made them extraordinary.
But in today’s profile of Hunt Jr., who owns the Missouri Mavericks hockey team, The Star was obliged to dabble in the messiest part of his life. And that was, as The Star adroitly phrased it, “a sexual encounter he had with a sister-in-law” many years ago.
I’ve got to tell you, that line really took me by surprise and had me riveted to the ensuing paragraphs.
The writer, Eric Adler, who has been at the paper about 30 years, went on to relate the gist of the sordid situation, saying…
— that Hunt “doesn’t deny the encounter”
— that he and his then-wife Jocelyn, with whom he had seven children, split up
— that his action became “the crux of a lawsuit”
— and that the case ended in a settlement “for undisclosed millions of dollars.”
Whew! There’s a lot there, but, damn, it sure raises a lot of questions, doesn’t it?
Adler so underplayed the matter — and, again, I understand why he and his editors handled it that way — that it would provoke almost anyone with a grain of curiosity to want to learn more.
And, so, for those of you either didn’t read the story or who read the story but didn’t act on your curiosity, I’m here to tell you the other key elements, which a Google search quickly revealed.
— First: “sister-in-law.” Hmmm, I wondered when I first read the story, would that possibly be the spouse of a brother or sister?
Oh, no. Hunt Jr. lurched into the most dangerous of territory — having sex with his wife’s sister.
— Second: “a sexual encounter.” Hmmm, I wondered…really, just once?
Well, no. A 1999 Associated Press story that appeared in the Lubbock (Texas) Avalanche-Journal said the verboten deeds occurred “on consecutive nights.” It doesn’t say how many nights, but certainly more than one.
— And then the shocker: His sister-in-law had significant mental disabilities.
Oh, my…And not only did Hunt not deny the encounters, it turns out he also wrote a letter — cited in the lawsuit — to Jocelyn titled “Confessions of a Sex Addict.”
In May 2000, an Associated Press story quoted a Dallas Morning News story that said the case was settled for about $2 million.
Now, The Star’s story focuses, as it should, on Hunt’s redemption and his return to the role of solid citizen: For example, Adler writes about how Hunt’s faith in God helped him cope and how he went on to what appears to be a successful second marriage.
…Let me assure you, I don’t put forth this information out of prurient interest. I’m just a news hound who sometimes senses there’s more to a story than meets the eye, and my deeply instilled journalistic curiosity often compels me to dig deeper. I want to know the full story — whether it’s political, criminal, sexual or whatever else in nature — even though the newspaper has no particular obligation to satisfy that curiosity in a story like the one on Lamar Hunt Jr.
But I think a lot of readers share my instinct and want to know the full story, too. So, for today, there it is.