In her first television interview, a woman who had a four-year affair with the Rev. Jesse Jackson calls their daughter her "miracle baby" and expresses no regrets over her relationship with the civil rights leader.
"I'm convinced she is supposed to be here, and I am supposed to be her mom," Karin Stanford says of her daughter, Ashley. "And I'm very proud of that."
Stanford tells ABCNEWS' Connie Chung that since the affair became public, her relationship with Jackson has been strained. He has only seen Ashley once in the last seven months, she says.
Recently, Stanford, a former Jackson aide, went to court to formalize the $4,000-a-month child support payments the former presidential candidate was already paying her. Jackson then asked her to sign a confidentiality agreement, she says. She refused.
"I was shocked," says Stanford, 39. "I had basically kept the details of our relationship confidential. … So then to be hit with the confidentiality agreement was highly insulting to me."
Jackson declined to comment on the interview except to say: "I offer no response because any response further exposes the child in ways I feel to be harmful. She deserves support, a guaranteed college education, dignity, and privacy."
Mixing Business and Pleasure
Stanford first met Jackson when she was completing her doctoral dissertation on his foreign policy record. From the beginning, Jackson impressed her.
"I was very inspired, and I walked away from that meeting believing that this guy is a true believer," Stanford tells Chung. "I was won over."
Their paths crossed again in the mid-1990s, when Stanford was a professor at the University of Georgia and turning her dissertation into a book. After an all-day meeting, Jackson offered her a position on his staff.
For Stanford, it was a dream job. But before long her relationship with Jackson — who was married with five children — became personal.
She says they were in love with one another but accepted that their circumstances precluded a conventional relationship.
"He didn't make any promises," she says. "I didn't think we'd have a future together. I just thought it was something we were doing for the moment."
Stanford also says it did not bother her that Jackson was married. "From what I understood about Rev. Jackson's marriage was that it was basically a political marriage," she says.
"I was very comfortable with our relationship, and I knew that while we were together his heart was nowhere else."
In 1998, Stanford discovered she was pregnant with Jackson's child.
She was surprised because she had undergone chemotherapy during a bout with breast cancer. Doctors had told her it was unlikely she would be able to bear children. Furthermore, she and Jackson had no intention of having children.
"It was unplanned," she says. "We took all the precautions that one would take when they're trying not to have a child, and it happened anyway."
Although her doctors warned her the pregnancy could jeopardize her own life, she decided to have the baby. "I knew that it was probably going to be my only opportunity to have a child," she says. "I couldn't just say, 'Well, God, it's not the right time.'"
Meanwhile, Stanford says she thought Jackson was considering running in the year 2000 presidential race. Not wanting to mar his political future, Stanford decided not to tell him she was pregnant.