Add another chapter to the already messy Tony Hendra scandal. For those who’ve missed the drama, Hendra, best-selling author of Father Joe: The Man Who Saved My Soul, a passionate memoir of his deep friendship with a Benedictine monk, was accused by his 39 year-old daughter, Jessica Hendra, of molesting her as a child. On Monday, writer Andrew J. Milner sent a letter alerting Jim Romenesko’s media news website to a photo that ran in SPY magazine in 1994 back when the Hendra was its editor. The photo depicts Hendra wearing a priest’s collar and striking an innocent pose while thinking some rather suggestive thoughts about children.
Since its release by Random House in May, Father Joe has been the recipient of nearly universal praise: page one review in The New York Times Book Review, days of Pulitzer Prize push from radio rainmaker Don Imus, and huge sales. Hendra’s profile hasn’t been this high since he costarred as the cricket-bat wielding rock manager, Ian Faith, in This Is Spinal Tap in 1984.
Jessica’s accusations exploded in The Times Arts section on July 1. The disturbingly graphic article by N.R. Kleinfield rattled The Times: its public editor, Daniel Okrent, dedicated nearly all of his Sunday column questioning whether the paper should have run the piece.
Then came the photo: suddenly a lot less amusing now than it was a decade ago. In the spirit of the magazine’s “Ten Years Ago in SPY,” a column in which curiously prescient reports on scandals appeared in the magazine’s pages approximately ten years before people were talking about them, we present something from ten years ago in SPY.
Hendra as a priest, upper right
image: Copyright, January 1994, SPY Magazine Volume 8 Number 3