Jessica Hendrawas inspired to lay bare the child abuse she allegedly suffered at thehands of Father Joe author and former Spy Editor in Chief TonyHendra by an unlikely ally—an old colleague of her father’s. AsJessica writes in her upcoming memoir, How to Cook Your Daughter (thetitle of which is a takeoff on a satire Hendra penned for National Lampoon), it was RudyMaxa, Hendra’s Washington Bureau Chief at the magazineand current NPR contributor, who encouraged her to speak out about herdad’s 2004 bestseller.
After reading a rapturous review of Father Joe byAndrew Sullivan in the New York Times Book Review(“it belongs in the first tier of spiritual memoirs ever written”),Maxa, who was best man at Jessica’s wedding, immediately called her andsaid, “If you have something to say about the book, let me know. I can getyou to the right people.” Jessica, now 40, says she read FatherJoe and was infuriated by the way her dad portrayed hissupposed path to redemption—while glossing overthe fact that he had repeatedly sexually abused her as a child. WithMaxa’s guidance, Jessica contacted the Times and cooperated witha July 2004 article published on the cover of the Arts section that outlined andsupported her claims. Tony Hendra vehemently denied the allegations and quicklyfled to the south of France for an extended vacation. But if the buzz in NewYork publishing circles is to be believed, perhaps he should consider a returntrip—the memoir, due out in October, is said to be devastating. Asked ifhe had any regrets about helping to expose his former boss, Maxa said simply,“A friend needed help and it was the right thing to do.”