Maria Shriver on Schwarzenegger's paternity admission: 'Painful and heartbreaking'



Former California First Lady Maria Shriver on Tuesday called "heartbreaking" husband Arnold Schwarzenegger's admission that he had fathered a child with a former household staff member more than a decade ago."This is a painful and heartbreaking time," Shriver said in a statement, her first since the former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger admitted paternity of the child Monday night in response to questions from The Times. "As a mother my concern is for the children. I ask for compassion, respect and privacy as my children and I try to rebuild our lives and heal. I will have no further comment." Shriver and Schwarzenegger, who have been married for 25 years, separated weeks ago, after she learned of the child. Shriver, the parent with Schwarzenegger of four children, ages 13 to 21, has moved out of the couple's Brentwood home.Shriver's statement Tuesday was noteworthy in tone. Although the couple announced their separation last week in a joint missive that made no mention of a cause for the split, this statement came from Shriver alone and pointedly set her and her children apart from Schwarzenegger.
The staff member worked for the family for 20 years, retiring in January. To protect their privacy, the Los Angeles Times is not publishing the former staffer's name or that of her child.
Schwarzenegger's acknowledgement came as the former governor, who left office in January, has been trying to rebuild his movie career and craft a new public-policy role. In recent months, he has maintained a high public profile, meeting with world dignitaries, attending a White House summit on immigration and working on assorted entertainment deals.
"After leaving the governor's office I told my wife about this event, which occurred over a decade ago," Schwarzenegger said Monday night in a statement issued to The 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.
"I ask that the media respect my wife and children through this extremely difficult time," the statement concluded. "While I deserve your attention and criticism, my family does not."
In an interview Monday before Schwarzenegger issued his statement, the former staffer said another man — her then-husband — was the child's father.
She said she voluntarily left her position with the couple earlier this year after reaching a longstanding goal of working for them for two decades. "I wanted to achieve my 20 years, then I asked to retire," she said, adding she received a severance payment and "left on good terms with them."
Later Monday, The Times informed the woman of the governor's statement, and she declined to comment further.
Schwarzenegger took financial responsibility for the child from the start and continued to provide support, according to a source who declined to be identified because of the former governor's request for privacy.
In keeping with their very public — and political — lives, two distinctly different portraits of the marriage and its status have emerged in the days since the breakup became public.
Schwarzenegger, 63, suggested that the split was temporary and the couple were working toward reconciliation. "We both love each other very much," the former governor said at an appearance last week at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles. "We are very fortunate that we have four extraordinary children, and we're taking one day at a time."
Friends of Shriver, 55, offered a grimmer assessment, saying she had been unhappy for years but made no move until after her parents died and Schwarzenegger finished his term as governor. Her father, Sargent Shriver, died Jan. 18, nearly a year and a half after the death of her mother, Eunice Kennedy Shriver.
The marriage between Shriver and Schwarzenegger pairing one of Hollywood's top box-office draws and a member of one of America's most storied Democratic political clans  has long been a subject of public interest.
As an actor, Schwarzenegger reveled in his macho image. But his behavior became an issue during his first campaign for governor, in the 2003 recall election, when more than a dozen women said he had groped them over a period of many years.
Schwarzenegger at first denied the allegations, then apologized. Shriver offered a timely and politically crucial defense of her husband, vouching for his personal integrity.
After his landslide election, she emerged as one of the most visible first ladies in California history, maintaining a high profile as she promoted volunteerism and directed a wildly popular annual conference on women.
Although their friends spoke of difficulties in the couple's marriage throughout Schwarzenegger's governorship, any tensions were kept out of public view.
Once Schwarzenegger left office, the two effectively began leading separate lives. Schwarzenegger has been jetting around the world, heading to Brazil's Xingu River with director James Cameron, to London for Mikhail Gorbachev's 80th birthday party, to Val d'Isère in France for skiing.
Schwarzenegger, who had to put aside acting and his business interests while serving in Sacramento, also plunged back into those pursuits.
Last week, a bidding war took place at Cannes to make two more installments of the "Terminator" franchise starring Schwarzenegger, and the former governor also signed to star in a third movie. He is working on an animated children's series based on his life and also exploring real estate and other business investments.
He has traveled the globe,apart from Shriver -delivering high-priced speeches and also participated in a White House summit on immigration reform. He is expected to pen his memoirs soon.
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