LOS ANGELES, May 17, 2011 (AFP) – Movie megastar and former U.S. governor Arnold Schwarzenegger admitted Tuesday to fathering a lovechild with a member of his household staff, triggering the breakup of his 25-year marriage.
He and his wife Maria Shriver, a member of the Kennedy political dynasty, announced their separation last week four months after the former champion bodybuilder left office as California governor.
“After leaving the governor’s office I told my wife about this event, which occurred over a decade ago,” Schwarzenegger, 63, said in a statement to the Los Angeles Times.
“I understand and deserve the feelings of anger and disappointment among my friends and family. There are no excuses and I take full responsibility for the hurt I have caused.
“I have apologized to Maria, my children and my family. I am truly sorry.”
Fifty-five year-old Shriver, a daughter of the storied Kennedy clan, moved out of the couple’s Brentwood mansion earlier this year after Schwarzenegger admitted paternity.
The Times did not give the name of the woman or her child to protect their privacy, but said she retired in January of this year after working for the couple for 20 years.
“I wanted to achieve my 20 years, then I asked to retire,” the paper quoted her as saying, adding that she received a severance payment and “left on good terms” with Schwarzenegger and Shriver.
The newspaper quoted a source as saying that Schwarzenegger had taken financial responsibility from the start and was still supporting the child.
Shriver’s spokesman said she would not comment on Schwarzenegger’s statement.
He and Shriver said earlier this month that they were separating after 25 years of marriage to take time to “work on the future” of their relationship.
The couple, who met in 1977 and married in 1986, have four children, aged between 14 and 21.
Their marriage had come under the spotlight through the years, notably amid reports of his history of groping women during campaigning for the 2003 recall election which Schwarzenegger won, the LA Times reported.
Shriver, a former TV journalist, defended him at the time, and has stood by his side during his seven years at the helm of the Golden State, a term that ended when Jerry Brown succeeded him four months ago.
Austrian-born Schwarzenegger, star of the “Terminator” blockbusters, had started to return to show business since he stepped down as governor, with plans for a “Governator” comic book and animated TV show.
He has has vowed to pursue his political passions — notably on the environment — fueling rumors than he could even run to be the next president of the European Union.
In his statement, Schwarzenegger again called for privacy, asking the media to “respect my wife and children through this extremely difficult time.”
“While I deserve your attention and criticism, my family does not,” he said.
Schwarzenegger’s bombshell revelation has prompted reaction among at least one gubernatorial peer.
Former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm, the state’s first woman governor who now teaches in California, posted a message Tuesday on Twitter blasting Schwarzenegger for his infidelity.
“Another guy guv admits 2 cheating on his wife. Maybe we need more women governors,” she tweeted.
“Guys: keep ur pants zipped, for Pete’s sake.”