"Author to Testify in Moxley Probe;
Info Sought on Suspect's Book Proposal"
By J.A. Johnson Jr., Greenwich Time

An author has been subpoenaed to appear before the grand jury investigating the 1975 Martha Moxley murder to testify about a book proposal he collaborated on with suspect Michael Skakel.

The author, Richard Hoffman of Cambridge, Mass., said last week that the subpoena orders him to appear before the grand jury in Bridgeport on Friday.

Hoffman, who won acclaim for a previous book about his life as a victim of child molestation, refused to discuss Skakel's book proposal, which has yet to be bought by a publisher.

Hoffman said he did not know what the grand jury hoped to learn from his testimony. "I appreciate your need to inquire about this, but I'm contractually bound by my collaborators' agreement with Mr. Skakel. So I can't discuss it," Hoffman said. "The truth of the matter is I'm only at liberty to say I know of nothing that is incriminating." Hoffman said he intends to comply with the subpoena.

News that Skakel planned to write a book first surfaced last year. On Feb. 27 - four months before the Moxley grand jury was convened - The New York Times reported that Skakel was looking for a publisher for a book he was writing that would give his version of the Moxley case. Skakel's Manhattan literary agent Alex Smithline told the newspaper his client was "going to touch on and refute the events of the night of the Moxley murder."

In November, however, when told the Moxley grand jury might want to take a look at Skakel's book proposal, Smithline told Greenwich Time the proposal contained "nothing that could possibly interest the grand jury." The literary agent described Skakel's proposed book as one that would primarily focus on his client's life as a relative of the famed Kennedy clan. Skakel's father, Rushton Skakel Sr., is a brother of Ethel Skakel Kennedy, widow of the late U.S. Sen. Robert Kennedy. Smithline did not return a call to his office last week.

Hoffman's book, "Half The House," has been described as an intensely personal depiction of his family's struggle in caring for the author's two terminally ill brothers, as well as an account of sexual abuse Hoffman suffered at the hands of a baseball coach when he was 10 years old. Hoffman also has published collections of poetry and short stories.

Skakel, now a Florida resident, lived across the street from Moxley and was with his 15-year old Greenwich neighbor the evening she was slain. Police identified the weapon used in the fatal Oct. 30, 1975 attack as a 6-iron from a set of golf clubs owned by the Skakel family.

Michael Skakel and his brother Thomas, who were 15 and 17, respectively, at the time of the murder, have both been identified by authorities as suspects in the Moxley murder. Attorneys for the brothers have for years maintained that their clients are innocent.

Since the grand jury was convened, Michael Skakel has apparently emerged as the prime suspect. Among the witnesses to have appeared in the closed-door probe are former residents and staff members of a drug and alcohol abuse rehabilitation center where prosecutors allege the younger Skakel brother made statements about the murder.