EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — For years, she was a popular public figure on the local news airwaves.
And she did part of it while enduring one of the most difficult times in her personal life.
Marisa Burke has written a book about her horrific experience while in the spotlight. And Eyewitness News anchor Candice Kelly recently sat down with her to talk about the challenges she faced when her life was unexpectedly upended.
For decades Marisa Burke anchored the evening news at WNEP in Scranton. Being in a television studio and on camera is a familiar place for her. It’s also a place where she struggled with a lot of personal pain. Anguish, that’s spelled out in her new memoir “Just Checking Scores.”
“I wanted this to be totally honest, with all the readers who might pick up this book. Because it is my story, my memoir, and it should be a true story,” Burke said.
Her book details a portion in her life of betrayal, and public humiliation at the hands of her former husband Mark Kandel. He was once a respected educator and Scranton school director. A man she loved, with whom she shares two daughters. A man who she says lived a double life.
“I had the nearly perfect life. The six-figure salary, the beautiful home, the great kids. They never got in trouble. A wonderful husband, perfect father,” Burke said.
The trouble started in 2008 when Kandel was arrested after hosting a party at their home while she was out of town. Authorities accused him of providing alcohol to a 17-year-old. At the time, Burke supported her husband, believing the accusations were false.
“I thought at the time it was a prosecutorial witch hunt. Only because we were a pretty high-profile couple in NEPA,” Burke said.
Kandel served 90 days of house arrest. And as a result, he lost everything, including his job and educational titles. Yet Marisa stayed by his side.
“At that time it was just a blur for me and at that time I was also throwing my total support behind him because I loved him and defended him,” Burke said.
She never doubted his word. But that changed in 2012 when it happened again. But this time it was much worse. Eyewitness News was there when Kandel was accused of sending thousands of sexually suggestive messages to teenaged boys.
Her home was raided by police and her electronics seized. Eventually, he admitted his guilt. A judge sentenced him to 14.5 years in federal prison for online enticement.
” He led a double life. He led a secret life. He was a con man,” Burke said.
His actions left deep scars on Marisa’s personal reputation. Even though she says she had nothing to do with his actions, the torment of having to experience such public embarrassment while anchoring a newscast, that’s reporting the crimes of her husband, was excruciating for her.
“It was like a punch in the gut. Every time I had to get through that. It was a horrible feeling. It was a horrible time. “
Marisa says she got through that horrible time with the support of her close family and friends and her employer, who she thought would let her go, multiple times. The experience also opened her eyes as to what was really going on around her and under the roof of her own home.
“They were right, from the very beginning, their suspicions were right on the money,” Burke said.
Even though her life was upended and forever changed, Marisa says her memoir is not a book of revenge. She wants it to be a story that empowers others.
“I don’t celebrate the story at all. It’s dark, it’s disturbing, and totally unflattering to me. But I celebrate the courage and bravery it took to put everything out there and to tell a story that I think needed to be told in hopes of helping others,” Burke said.
There is a lot more to Marisa’s story. And many people may be wondering how she didn’t know or didn’t recognize the signs of what was really going on.
Former longtime WNEP news anchor Marisa Burke has written a memoir that describes one of the darkest moments in her personal and professional life. ‘Just Checking Scores’ is about the trauma she endured when her husband’s secret sex life with underaged boys was revealed.
To say the last few years of Burke’s marriage were traumatic is an understatement. The former news anchor endured public humiliation thanks to a scandal brought on by her now, ex-husband Mark Kandel.
“He was a master manipulator at everything,” Burke said.
He pleaded guilty to online enticement of minors in 2013 for sending thousands of inappropriate messages to teenagers. While he continues to serve a 14.5-year federal prison sentence, Marisa is finding a new path to peace through her book “Just Checking Scores.”
“I don’t celebrate this book, I don’t celebrate the story, but I’m glad it was published,” Burke said.
The book recounts some painful memories of when her husband’s inappropriate behavior with teenagers came to light. Looking back, she admits she made some mistakes and there were many warning signs she should have seen but says she didn’t.
“I didn’t know, because perhaps I didn’t want to know,” Burke said.
One of them, she openly admits in her book, was a lack of intimacy in their relationship. Working nights on the anchor desk also didn’t help. She said eventually Mark became obsessed with going to the gym, and was constantly checking his phone or laptop. She never questioned it.
“I didn’t want to be one of those wives second-guessing their partner. Being suspicious. I didn’t want to be that person,” Burke said.
Marisa says she thought their marriage was trustworthy and had no reason to doubt her husband, even when the former educator continued to mentor and advise teens in their own home, after his first run-in with the law in 2008.
“When I was asleep, and the girls were asleep and he would leave the back door open and the excuse was: “I didn’t want to disturb you. You’re sleeping and you’ve got to get up for work the next day,” Burke said.
Despite his casual excuses and lack of fear, Marisa says her devotion to him was unwavering.
“Looking back at it now, yeah, it probably was a huge mistake on my part,” Burke said.
It wasn’t until 2012; when the dynamic changed. A second investigation at her home revealed much darker issues. That was the wake-up call Marisa said she needed.
“I had my epiphany. I said after all of this, now the pieces of the puzzle are coming together. And they were right all along,” Burke said.
It was then, she made a decision to stand on her own. In her lowest of lows she says she kept her head high.
“I had to survive, for the sake of my children. They were at a very impressionable age, grade school. I could not give up,” Burke said.
Marisa left WNEP in 2016 and founded Marisa Burke Communications LLC. She has since moved to Colorado to be near family. And her book is now available for purchase.
You can find Candice’s full unedited interview here.