Former New Jersey governor 'falls to grace' in post-scandal documentary

* "Caricature in the tabloids"

* "I have failed, but that's everyone"

PARK CITY, Utah, Jan 18 (Reuters) - When New Jersey Governor

Jim McGreevey stepped down from office in 2004 in a gay sex

scandal, he became another disgraced politician brought down by

his own actions.

Since then, the former Democratic governor, now 55, has

tried to step out of the spotlight after a messy divorce from

his second wife by swapping politics for volunteer work with

jailed women.

Filmmaker Alexandra Pelosi, daughter of U.S. House of

Representatives Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, chronicled

McGreevey and his new life in "Fall to Grace" an HBO documentary

that premiered on Friday at the Sundance Film Festival.

"I was intrigued by the caricature that I saw in the

tabloids, because Jim McGreevey is a tabloid fixture in New

York. They're obsessed with everything he does, and I was

intrigued by the way they hunted him, like an animal," Pelosi

told Reuters on Friday.

"They wouldn't let him move on ... everyone writes him off

because of some mistake he made before," she added.

Pelosi, 42, followed McGreevey with a handheld camera as he

visited women in jail and counseled them after their release,

helping them to rehabilitate their lives.

McGreevey, who was elected New Jersey governor in 2001, said

he had "constructed a life" for himself while living as a

closeted gay man during his political career. Since his

resignation, he said he had found new strength in religion, and

attended seminary school for three years.

"My life is to highlight the need for more compassion and

for a different way in which we treat incarceration of women.

Being behind the bars with these women is a great blessing, and

I can be a voice for them," McGreevey said on Friday.


Pelosi said she was drawn to "broken men" and their stories,

and chose to profile McGreevey because he had turned around his


"He went into public service because he wanted to help

people, then he got wrapped up in the ego and hubris and

himself. And ironically, he didn't help people until he fell and

realized he was broken. Ironically, he's helping people now,"

she said.

In 2004, McGreevey admitted an affair with a male staffer

from Israel on his security team and came out as gay.

Eight years later, Wisconsin voters sent Tammy Baldwin to

Washington as the first openly gay U.S. senator.

"Times have changed. Gay in 2004 is a lot different to gay

in 2012. ... You can be gay and be in politics now, but I don't

think in 2004 it was that kind of environment," Pelosi said.

Pelosi was joined by her mother and father at the festival

premiere. Nancy Pelosi said she was proud of her daughter's

effort to capture McGreevey's story.

"This is not just a story about how a politician has fallen

from grace, it's a personal momentum to make a difference in our

country and the lives of the American people. He's used his

power and commitment to make a difference in individual people's

lives," she said.

McGreevey said he had put priesthood in the Episcopal Church

aside for the moment in order to dedicate himself to his new


"I'm a broken person and many of us are broken. ... I don't

always make the right decisions. I have failed, but that's

everyone. Women in jail are also deserving of the same

transformation and same redemption," he said.

"Fall To Grace" will air in March on HBO.

(Editing by Jill Serjeant and Peter Cooney)