The paparazzi are camped outside the mansion. Supermarket tabloids are offering money for a tale, a photo, an interview - again.

Serious trouble again stalks the wealthy, famous Kennedy clan. This time, authorities are investigating an alleged rape at the family's Florida compound after a night of drinking over Easter weekend.On Friday, Palm Beach police confirmed that Sen. Edward Kennedy's nephew, William Kennedy Smith, is a suspect in the case. Smith, a 30-year-old medical student at Georgetown University, is the son of the senator's sister, Jean Kennedy Smith, and her late husband, Stephen E. Smith.

The resort has been "inundated with media" from around the world since authorities publicized the incident on Tuesday, said Palm Beach police Capt. Brian Roche.

They were drawn by the latest misfortune to beset one of the nation's most glamorous political families. But with the power and adulation have come plane crashes, car accidents, cancer, alcoholism and drug addiction.

"More and more we come to see them in a sort of sad light," said Caroline Latham, co-author of "The Kennedy Encyclopedia."

At the same time, reporters in Palm Beach have gone to court to complain police gave the Kennedys preferential treatment in investigating the case and making details public. But a judge said the department is not required to release a detailed report of the allegations.

The 29-year-old woman, who has not been publicly identified, told police she was raped early March 30 after she went to the Kennedy oceanfront compound with Smith; Sen. Kennedy; and the senator's 24-year-old son, Patrick, a Rhode Island legislator. She said she had met the three earlier at the Au Bar club, a popular Palm Beach nightspot.

The Sun-Sentinel of Fort Lauderdale, quoting an unidentified source, reported Saturday that the woman told police she walked with Smith to the beach and when he decided to go for a swim, she headed back to the compound. Moments later, she was tripped and sexually assaulted, the newspaper said.

She then went back into the mansion, where Smith allegedly met her and tried to convince her that he did not assault her, the newspaper said.

The three men have denied any involvement.

"Being named a suspect does not mean one has committed an offense," the senator said Friday. "When all the facts come out, I'm confident Willie will be vindicated."

The family's Palm Beach compound served as a second home for the clan's 100-year-old matriarch, Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy. Her other home is in Hyannis, Mass.

In her lifetime, Rose has buried her husband, Joseph, the former ambassador to Great Britain, and four of their nine children.

Two children died in separate plane crashes during the 1940s. John F. and Robert, a president and a senator, were assassinated just five years apart.

After Robert's assassination in 1968, the family's political aspirations centered on Ted. But his political career was soon mired in a disaster of his own making - Chappa-quiddick.

In 1969, Mary Jo Kopechne, a secretary and former campaign worker for Robert Kennedy, drowned when a car driven by the Massachusetts senator spun off a bridge on Chappaquiddick Island after a party. The subsequent investigation was clouded by questions about his delay in reporting the accident and whether there was a coverup.

Soon after Kennedy's unsuccessful 1980 bid for the presidency, Ted and Joan Kennedy were divorced. She has struggled with alcoholism.

The couple's son, Edward Jr., lost a leg to cancer.

Other cousins were battling drugs and the family's reputation for living life in the fast lane. Joseph P. Kennedy II, son of Robert, was just 20 when the Jeep he was driving crashed and paralyzed a passenger.

In 1983, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. enrolled in a New Jersey drug treatment center after being convicted for heroin possession.

Shortly after Easter 1984, David Kennedy, another son of Robert, died of a drug overdose in a hotel not far from the Florida compound.

The tabloids had a field day when John F. Kennedy Jr. initially failed to pass his New York state bar exam. And his father's alleged infidelities have long been a supermarket staple.

There has been little comment from the Kennedy clan since the latest allegations.

"Those families really had no father," the author Latham said.

But another Kennedy watcher takes a less sympathetic view.

"There are some family tragedies in this family, but a lot of the tragedy is self-generated and a lot of it is on other people," said David Horowitz, co-author of "The Kennedys: An American Drama."

Horowitz viewed the most recent incident as predictable.

"One of the reasons for this self-destructive behavior on the part of the younger Kennedys is they got the message from their elders that they could do anything they want."