- A "truly sorry" Rev. Jesse Jackson revealed
last night that he fathered a love child two years ago - and said he's
dropping out of public life to reconcile with his devastated family.
- The extraordinary admission came as the National Enquirer
published a story about Jackson's secret affair with Rainbow Coalition
activist Karin Stanford.
- The bombshell report details how the married civil-rights
leader romanced the ex-professor while serving as spiritual adviser to
President Clinton during Sexgate and even took his pregnant mistress to
the White House.
- "I am father to a daughter who was born outside
of my marriage," Jackson said in a statement to The Post.
- "As her mother does, I love this child very much
and have assumed responsibility for her emotional and financial support
since she was born," he continued.
- "This is no time for evasions, denials or alibis.
I fully accept responsibility and I am truly sorry for my actions."
- The fiery preacher - who has been hammering away at some
of George W. Bush's Cabinet appointments in recent days - said he was taking
time off from his "public ministry" because of the scandal.
- It was unclear if he was canceling plans to lead a massive
march on the Florida state capitol on Inauguration Day to protest the presidential
- The Post contacted Stanford, 39, at her home in south
Los Angeles several times this week. She and family members politely declined
to comment on her affair with Jackson, 59.
- But she told the Enquirer: "Jesse and I still have
a very warm and close relationship."
- Since DNA tests determined he was the father of the 20-month-old
girl - Stanford was seeing another man when she got pregnant - Jackson
has been paying $10,000 a month in support.
- He also gave the single mom $40,000 for "moving
expenses" when she took maternity leave and left Washington, D.C.,
for her native California.
- Their fateful liaison began after Jackson, impressed
by a book Stanford had written about his impact on foreign policy, hired
her to run the Rainbow Coalition's Washington office.
- The affair coincided with the explosion of the Sexgate
scandal and Jackson's unofficial position as adviser to Clinton on his
adulterous fling with intern Monica Lewinsky.
- In August 1998, around the time his out-of-wedlock child
was conceived, Jackson urged the public to forgive the president for cheating
on his wife.
- "The nation must take the test: If there are any
among us who have not known the trials and tribulations and temptations,
then throw a rock," he said.
- "At some point, we have to forgive, redeem and move
- That December, he escorted a four-months-pregnant Stanford
and other Rainbow Coalition staffers to meet President Clinton and stood
next to her during a photo opportunity.
- It wasn't long before word of the escapades reached the
homefront - and Jackson's enraged wife of 38 years, Jackie, confronted
Stanford at the Rainbow Coalition offices, the Enquirer said.
- "Jackie screamed at Karin that she'd raised Jesse's
children and had been at his side through really tough times," a source
told the weekly. "She accused Karin of getting pregnant on purpose."
- And Stanford admitted: "I would not be surprised
if his family hated me."
- Even after the blowup, Jackson - who was born out of
wedlock himself - was clearly not ready to acknowledge the child was his.
- In a March 1999 newsletter, he announced Stanford would
soon be taking maternity leave for "the birth of her first child"
with her attorney boyfriend.
- A week later, he announced he had decided not to seek
the Democratic nomination for president, reprising his 1984 and 1988 campaigns.
- Stanford was involved with another man when she found
out she was pregnant and left blank the space for the father's name on
the birth certificate when her daughter was born in May.
- But a DNA test confirmed Jackson was the father of the
baby, who reportedly shares with him a genetic trait for sickle-cell anemia.
- He quickly had a financial agreement for support drawn
up - a pact that included an agreement by Stanford not to publicly acknowledge
her baby's parentage, the tab reported.
- In Los Angeles, Stanford continues to work for the Rainbow
Coalition as a consultant, and Jackson visits her and his daughter when
he's in California.
- The scandal has left Jackson estranged from Jackie and
on shaky ground with his five kids, including his congressman son, Jesse
- "It has been an extremely painful, trying, difficult
time for them," Jackson said.
- "I have asked God and each one of them to forgive
me and I thank each of them for their grace and understanding throughout
this period of tribulation.
- "We have prayed together and through God's grace
we have been reconciling."
- Jackson said he hoped to "revive my spirit and reconnect
with my family" during his temporary break from public life.
- His biographer, Marshall Frady, said he was not shocked
by the revelations and did not think they would permanently wreck his reputation.
- "During the presidential campaign, the lore about
his extra-domestic careering was absolutely pandemic - the rumors connected
him to a galaxy of ladies," Frady said.
- He said that like the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Jackson
"is a passionate being and has never been skilled in applying calculated
economies to his emotions."
- Noting that Jackson was born out of wedlock and didn't
learn his natural father's identity until he was 5 or 6 years old, Frady
said there is a kind of "circling poetic irony" in yesterday's
- Jackson also brought up his family history last night.
- "I was born of these circumstances and I know the
importance of growing up in a nurturing, supportive and protected environment,"
- "So I am determined to give my daughter and her
mother the privacy they both deserve."
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