Schwarzenegger child report spurs media frenzy
Thursday, May 19, 2011
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (AP) — The revelation that Arnold Schwarzenegger has an out-of-wedlock child with a former employee turned into a tabloid frenzy Wednesday as scores of reporters and photographers swarmed a quiet suburban cul-de-sac in the middle of California farm country amid unconfirmed reports it was the home of the child’s mother.
The owner of the house, identified in property records as Mildred Patricia Baena, was not at the Bakersfield home when the flash mob arrived, its satellite TV trucks filling her quiet street and spilling onto another one. The media descended after the woman’s name was first reported by Radar Online and subsequently by other news outlets including The New York Times, which cited two unnamed friends of the family.
Schwarzenegger’s office declined to discuss whether Baena is the mother of the former governor’s child.
Baena’s adult daughter, Jacqueline Rozo, told The Associated Press her mother had worked for Schwarzenegger until recently, but declined to discuss her further. The AP has not independently confirmed that Baena is the mother of Schwarzenegger’s child.
The scandal exploded into public view after Schwarzenegger and wife Maria Shriver announced last week that they were splitting up after 25 years of marriage. Then came an admission by the former two-term governor that he fathered a child with a member of the household staff.
A photo of the boy posted on Baena’s MySpace page shows a fairly strong resemblance to Schwarzenegger, particularly when the actor-bodybuilder-politician was younger.
“If I saw him or his picture, I would see the resemblance,” next-door neighbor Marilyn Steelman said, adding that she never thought of any connection or resemblance between the boy and former governor after seeing him in the neighborhood.
Steelman told The Associated Press that after moving into the neighborhood about a year ago, the family told her the woman worked for Schwarzenegger and was planning to retire soon.
Until about 2 1/2 months ago, Steelman said, the woman was rarely home except on weekends, and said she lived during the week in an apartment in the Los Angeles area, 100 miles to the south.
Charlene Powers, a real estate agent who represented the seller of the home, said she was told it was being purchased for an employee of Schwarzenegger, and that he was helping her with the down payment. Records show the family took a loan of $219,224 to purchase the home for $268,000.
Real estate records at the county assessor’s office make no mention of Schwarzenegger’s name.
Another real estate agent, Alex Guerrero, who represented Baena, declined to discuss her.
Steelman said Baena, her husband and 13-year-old son have been fine neighbors.
She said the boy often walks his dog, a white poodle named Sugar, in the neighborhood of fashionable, relatively new homes sporting red-tile roofs and two- and three-car garages. He also plays basketball or swims in his family’s backyard pool.
“He’s a wonderful kid. Such a nice young man. He’s respectful of people and property, very courteous. He’s very intelligent. He’s just a kid you want to be around,” she said.
The Los Angeles Times, which first reported Schwarzenegger had fathered a child with a longtime family employee, has not named the woman but has said she retired in January after working for the former governor and his family for 20 years.
He and his aides have declined to release her name or any details beyond a statement in which he apologized to his wife and four children with her and asked for privacy for his family.
Schwarzenegger has said Shriver didn’t learn the child was his until he told her after leaving the governor’s office in January.
The birth certificate for the Bakersfield woman’s son shows he was born the same week as Schwarzenegger and Shriver’s youngest son.
Shriver, who has not discussed the matter since issuing a brief statement Monday, made a quick walk-on appearance that same day at a taping of one of Oprah Winfrey’s final shows, telling the talk show host she has “given me love, support, wisdom and most of all the truth.” The show is expected to air Tuesday.
One person familiar with the situation said the former governor has been humbled and embarrassed by the ordeal.
“It’s been very, very hard for him,” said the individual, who requested anonymity out of respect for the family’s privacy. “He’s embarrassed. He’s not focused on what steps he needs to take for himself, but the steps he needs to take for his family.”
The incident returned to the public’s attention numerous allegations made over the years that Schwarzenegger was a notorious womanizer.
It also threatened to bring forth more women with allegations against Schwarzenegger. On Wednesday, Los Angeles attorney Gloria Allred confirmed she is representing Gigi Goyette, a former child actress who has said she had annual trysts with Schwarzenegger at a bodybuilding competition he sponsored in Ohio.
“I can confirm that I do represent Gigi Goyette,” Allred said in an email. “We have no comment at this time and we will also have no comment tomorrow.”
Shortly before Schwarzenegger was elected governor in 2003, the Los Angeles Times reported allegations from more than a dozen women who said he had groped them or made unwanted advances. He apologized at the time for having behaved badly in his younger years, and went on to win election.
Schwarzenegger biographer Joe Mathews said the public shouldn’t have been all that surprised by this week’s revelations. Mathews quoted the former governor’s own words, “where there’s smoke there’s fire” while acknowledging the groping allegations in 2003.
There had also been rumors on the political circuit for years of a Schwarzenegger out-of-wedlock child, Mathews said, although the accounts could not be verified until now. The author of the 2006 book, “The People’s Machine: Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Rise of Blockbuster Democracy,” noted that both Schwarzenegger and Shriver were careful to parse their words when they addressed the womanizing allegations in 2003, never issuing an outright denial.
“She didn’t come out and defend him and say he’s a faithful, great husband,” he said of Shriver’s defense of her husband. “She said he’s a person who is really smart and really wants to do this job and has a lot to offer California.”
Perhaps more telling, as early as 1999, Mathews said, Schwarzenegger, who was then considering a run for governor, called aides together in Los Angeles and, rather that discuss possible political positions, railed against the impeachment of President Bill Clinton for his sexual liaison with Monica Lewinsky. If that was the way politicians’ personal lives were exposed, Schwarzenegger told them, he might not seek office, Mathews said.
Since leaving the governor’s office earlier this year, Schwarzenegger has indicated some interest in continuing in politics, perhaps becoming a spokesman for environmental causes, including green energy development, one of the issues he worked hardest for as governor. Mathews noted that Schwarzenegger hasn’t flatly ruled out a run for U.S. Senate either, although he speculated it would be hard for him to get elected now.
The former star has also made it clear he wants to return to Hollywood. He recently announced plans to play himself in an animated TV show called “The Governator” and is scheduled to begin filming this summer on “Cry Macho,” a film drama in which he would play a horse trainer. The former world bodybuilding champion is also in negotiations to reprise what is arguably his most popular role, as the relentless killer cyborg in the “Terminator” films.
Wozniacka reported from Bakersfield and Rogers reported from Los Angeles. Associated Press writers Greg Risling, Thomas Watkins and Christina Hoag also contributed to this report from Los Angeles.
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