Dozens of reporters and photographers have descended on a quiet suburban street in California after reports it is the home of the mother of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s love child.
The revelation that the Terminator star and ex-California governor had fathered a child with a former employee triggered a tabloid frenzy in Bakersfield.
The owner of the house, identified in property records as Mildred Patricia Baena, was not at the home when the media arrived, its satellite TV trucks filling her quiet street and spilling onto another one.
Her name was reported in US media, 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 his 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 scandal exploded into public view after Schwarzenegger and 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 neighbour Marilyn Steelman said, adding that she never thought of any connection or resemblance between the boy and former governor after seeing him in the neighbourhood.
Steelman said after moving into the neighbourhood about a year ago, the family told her the woman worked for Schwarzenegger and was planning to retire soon.
Until about two 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 (160 kilometres) to the south.
Charlene Powers, an estate agent who represented the seller of the home, said she was told it was being bought 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 dollars (€153,581) to buy the home for $268,000 dollars (€187,000) .
Records at the county assessor’s office make no mention of Schwarzenegger’s name.
Steelman said Baena, her husband and 13-year-old son have been fine neighbours.
She said the boy often walks his dog, in the neighbourhood. 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 long-time 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 apologised to his wife and four children with her and asked for privacy for his family.
Schwarzenegger has said Shriver did not 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 on 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 on 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. “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 womaniser.
It also threatened to bring out more women with allegations against Schwarzenegger.
On Wednesday, Los Angeles lawyer 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 apologised at the time for having behaved badly in his younger years, and went on to win election.
Schwarzenegger biographer Joe Mathews said the public should not 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 rumours 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 in the use of their words when they addressed the womanising 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 defence 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 than 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 US 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.