As reported earlier this morning, Arnold Schwarzenegger has admitted that he fathered a child with a former household staffer, information that prompted his separation from wife Maria Shriver, who reportedly did not know about the child until recently.
Anyone familiar with Schwarzenegger’s past knows this is not the first time he has faced controversial accusations. But in light of this new revelation, his past responses to allegations of affairs and untoward behavior could attract renewed scrutiny.
For example, while the action-movie star was campaigning for governor of California in 2003, the Los Angeles Times interviewed six women who said the actor inappropriately touched them without their consent. The incident became known as “Gropegate.”
“Three of the women described their surprise and discomfort when Schwarzenegger grabbed their breasts. A fourth said he reached under her skirt and gripped her buttocks,” the Times reported.
“A fifth woman said Schwarzenegger groped her and tried to remove her bathing suit in a hotel elevator. A sixth said Schwarzenegger pulled her onto his lap and asked whether a certain sexual act had ever been performed on her.”
After the story was released, Schwarzenegger admitted he “behaved badly sometimes” at a campaign event. He appeared on the ABC Evening News and told Peter Jennings he couldn’t “remember what was happening 20 years ago and 15 years ago.” But he added, “Some of the things sound like me. And this is why I was the first one to come out and say that some of the things could have happened. And I want to apologize to the people if I offended anyone because that was not my intention.”
So while he didn’t outright deny that the incidents occurred, he did attempt to minimize them. And it seemed to work: He was elected in California’s 2003 recall election, replacing then-Gov. Gray Davis..
But that didn’t stop additional accusations from surfacing. In 2005, the L.A. Times ran a front page story saying that American Media, the tabloid publisher of the National Enquirer, Globe and Star and an organization with ties to Schwarzenegger, paid actress Gigi Goyette $20,000 not to discuss an alleged affair with him days after he announced his 2003 candidacy. As the Post’s Amy Argetsinger reported, Schwarzenegger’s spokesman said he did not believe the governor knew about the deal, and American Media declined to comment. The Enquirer ran a story about the the alleged affair in 2001 but after the exclusive rights to Goyette’s story were purchased in 2003, American Media’s publications did not pursue the matter again.
So does Schwarzenegger’s current admission of an affair mean that he definitely had a relationship with Goyette, or engaged in every bit of behavior suggested by Gropegate? Not at all. But it does give credence to those who have long suspected him of pursuing inappropriate relationships women.
And depending on how the news is received by the public, it could make matters more difficult for Schwarzenegger in the short term, as he attempts to rebrand himself as a comic and animated hero.At the same time, it seems foolish to assume that Schwarzenegger — the man who has forever promised us that he’ll be back — won’t rebound from this latest revelation.