Ex-anchorman ‘climbing the mountain’ to personal recovery



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One month after he was arrested and spent Christmas in jail on a variety of charges, former Chicago television newsman Kevin Roy says he’s thinking of making a bid for the White House to help change public attitudes about mental illness.

Roy, 43, is the former ABC 7 reporter and weekend news anchor whose contract was not renewed in April 2010 after he repeatedly failed to show up for newscasts. At the time, he cited “physical exhaustion” for missing assignments.

In an interview Monday, Roy acknowledged that he had been dealing with substance abuse. “I had been through my own personal dealings with addiction," he said. "That certainly played a role in why I lost my job. I want to have this opportunity to take full responsibility for that and acknowledge it. But I’ve also been working real hard to face my demons and to overcome them.”

Asked how far he’s come, Roy said: “I’m really climbing the mountain, and I’m almost at the top of it. I’m feeling a lot better in terms of my personal recovery. I’ve been working real hard at it. I’d say I’m about 97 percent of the way there.”

Now living in Palm Springs, California, where he runs a property rental business, Roy drew attention last November when he wrote on his Facebook page that he was constantly under surveillance: “Every single phone call and every time I’m on the Internet I’ve been monitored, harassed, and someone or many people are behind it . . . I hope no one ever has to go through this kind of scheming and orchestrated effort to control one’s life.”

On December 22, he was arrested outside of Phoenix in Glendale, Arizona, and charged with criminal trespass and burglary, drug offenses, driving under the influence, reckless driving, and resisting arrest. His booking photo shows him bearded, bruised and bloodshot — far different from the clean-cut, professional image he maintained for 12 years on Chicago television. A spokeswoman for the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office said Roy had been released, but provided no additional information on the case.

Roy said he spent “four very long days and nights” in jail — including Christmas — before he was able to post bond. When he appeared for a court hearing, Roy said, he was told the charges against him had been “scratched” and he was free to go. “It might not be technically accurate to say that it’s been completely dismissed, but the term they used was ‘scratched.’ It’s unlikely, but they could send a summons and I could have to appear in court [someday].”

He declined to discuss details of the arrest because he said it may be the subject of a civil lawsuit.

After returning home to Palm Springs, Roy said the idea of running for president occurred to him as a way to call attention to the plight of the mentally ill. It’s been a personal concern since his mother committed suicide at age 51.

“I find myself both haunted and motivated by the belief that were it not for the stigma associated with mental illnesses, Diane Marcus Roy would still be alive today,” Roy wrote on his blog January 21. “She died 16 years ago, and sadly, when I look around at the sorry state of our nation and how people with mental illnesses are treated, it seems very little has changed. I stand before you now as an unemployed, angry survivor of suicide who just happens to be gay and ready to change the world.

“I joined the ranks of the millions of unemployed after being told my ‘contract wasn’t being renewed,’ nearly two years ago, unfairly being forced out of a job I loved and a dream I had pursued since I was in the fourth grade. Never did I dream until now about being president of the greatest country in the world. But I’ve been searching for a new way to get the most important message I can think of delivered to the masses in a powerful way.”

On Monday, I asked Roy whether he was serious about running for president.

“I haven’t formally declared my candidacy,” he said. “I haven’t officially made a big announcement. I need some backing . . . I realize how much I miss my job at WLS. In a heartbeat, I would go back to that. But barring that, I’ve been looking to do something else with my life. I want to put my talents and abilities to the best use and to the best service that mankind could get from me. Whatever God wants from me, that’s what I want to do.”

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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)