Schwarzenegger Says He Fathered Employee's Child

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Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has admitted to fathering a child more than a decade ago with a member of his household staff. Earlier this month, he and wife Maria Shriver announced they were separating.

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

Former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is acknowledging that a decade ago, he fathered a child out of wedlock. The mother was reportedly a member of his family's household staff until just a few months ago.

The revelation appeared today in the Los Angeles Times, but it did not name the woman involved. As NPR's Ina Jaffe reports, the news helps explain Schwarzenegger's recent separation from his wife, former journalist Maria Shriver.

INA JAFFE: Several weeks ago, Schwarzenegger and Shriver quietly separated after 25 years of marriage. The news became public just last week, and Schwarzenegger was uncharacteristically subdued when he acknowledged the separation at a Jewish community event. He held out hope for reconciliation.

Mr. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (Former Republican Governor, California): We both love each other very much. We are very fortunate that we have four extraordinary children. And we're taking one day at a time.

JAFFE: Californians are accustomed to glamorous couples, but Schwarzenegger and Shriver were right at the top. He was the muscle man turned movie star turned politician. She was a member of Kennedy clan and an anchor at NBC News.

Still, few Californians seemed shocked to learn of their separation. They'd long been aware of Schwarzenegger's reputation as a womanizer. Before the 2003 recall election that made him governor, the Los Angeles Times reported the allegations of several women who said they'd been groped by Schwarzenegger at the gym, during film shoots or during interviews. But his candidacy was rescued in large part by Shriver coming to his defense.

(Soundbite of archived audio)

Ms. MARIA SHRIVER: You can listen to people who have never met Arnold or who met him for five seconds 30 years ago, or you can listen to me.

JAFFE: But the news that Schwarzenegger cheated on his wife under their own roof and kept it secret for 10 years seems to take things to a whole new level, says political analyst Barbara O'Connor.

Ms. BARBARA O'CONNOR (Political Analyst): Yes, we knew he was a bad boy but we didn't know he was this bad.

JAFFE: O'Connor is also a friend of Maria Shriver's.

Ms. O'CONNOR: You know, when you're betrayed, and you have really supported someone so publicly on the very issue that you're betrayed on, it has to hurt.

JAFFE: Even before their separation was announced, it appeared that Schwarzenegger and Shriver were going their own ways. Since he left office in January, Schwarzenegger's been flying around the world solo: to Brazil with movie director James Cameron; to London for Mikhail Gorbachev's 80th birthday; and to Washington for a White House conference on immigration. He's also cut deals to revive his movie career.

Meanwhile, Shriver has publicly acknowledged struggling to figure out what comes next in her life. She posted this video on YouTube.

(Soundbite of video)

Ms. SHRIVER: Like a lot of you, I'm in transition, and people come up to me all the time and go: What are you doing next? What are you going to do? What did you come up with?

JAFFE: It's clearly a hard question for Shriver to answer now. When her husband became governor, she was forced to give up her journalism career at NBC. She concentrated on being California's first lady, but now that's over.

She also lost both of her parents in the last couple of years. Her children are growing up and going on to college.

(Soundbite of video)

Ms. SHRIVER: It is so stressful to not know what you're doing next, when people ask you what are you doing, and then they can't believe that you don't know what you're doing, and then every idea you have, you think, well, maybe I shouldn't do that...

JAFFE: In a statement released today, Shriver called this a painful and heartbreaking time and said she'd have no further comment.

Schwarzenegger released a statement to the Los Angeles Times last night. It said in part: I understand and deserve the feelings of anger and disappointment among my friends and family. There are no excuses. I am truly sorry.

Ina Jaffe, NPR News.

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