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 woman was not at the Bakersfield home when the flash mob arrived, its satellite TV trucks filling her quiet Bakersfield street and spilling onto another one. The media descended after the woman's name surfaced in several Internet reports.
Schwarzenegger's office declined to discuss whether the woman is the mother of the former governor's child.
Residents of the street of fashionable, relatively new homes sporting red-tile roofs and two- and three-car garages said they didn't know if the woman's son was fathered by Schwarzenegger. But a next-door neighbor, Marilyn 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 on retiring soon.
Steelman said the real estate agent who sold the family the house told her Schwarzenegger was actually the buyer.
"She said the house was sold and Arnold was buying it for one of his staff that was retiring," Steelman recalled.
Real estate records at the county assessor's office make no mention of Schwarzenegger's name.
Steelman said the woman, her husband and son are nice people.
"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.
Steelman said the boy often walked his dog, a white poodle named Sugar, in the neighborhood or played basketball or swam in his family's backyard pool.
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.
Schwarzenegger, who recently separated with his wife, Kennedy family heiress and former network journalist Maria Shriver, acknowledged Monday that he fathered a child with a former employee more than a decade ago.
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 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, Christopher Schwarzenegger.
Shriver, who has declined to discuss the matter since issuing a brief statement on Monday, made an appearance Monday at a taping of Oprah Winfrey's farewell show, telling the talk show host she has "given me love, support, wisdom and most of all the truth."
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.
Shortly before he was elected governor in 2003, the 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 in a landslide victory.
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 box-office 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.
Associated Press Writer Gosia Wozniacka reported from Bakersfield. Associated Press Writer John Rogers reported from Los Angeles. Also contributing to this story was Associated Press Writer Greg Risling.
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