After a week of silence and dodging both American and Argentine media, South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford's South American mistress publicly acknowledged their relationship Sunday in a statement read on Argentine TV.
Maria Belen Chapur, a former television producer, remains under the radar because of intense media scrutiny surrounding her. But in a brief statement conveyed through a television report on Buenos Aires' C5N channel, the 41-year-old said she indeed was involved with Sanford and that the published e-mail correspondence between the two was obtained from her account by a "hacker."
The former journalist did not directly acknowledge the affair or mention the embattled governor's name, saying she won't speak about her private life, which has already been made too public and painful. But her statement offered extensive details about how the "the author of this evil action" broke into her e-mail account. She denied that the hacker was a friend of hers.
Chapur's friends and colleagues told ABC News she is a sophisticated and intelligent woman, and that the relationship between the two was simply a matter of love.
Chapur is "refined and professional," said news anchor Eduardo Feinmann, to whom Chapur sent her statement. He added that he wasn't shocked when he heard about the affair, and thinks she might really be in love.
Sanford said in a tearful press conference last Wednesday that he had known the woman -- who he didn't identify by name -- for years but that the relationship only turned romantic in the last year. The governor said he met her three times over the last year.
On Monday, Sanford made his second appearance after the announcement at a state budget board meeting. He apologized again to his staff for "letting you down" and said he was sorry about the affair. But he also reaffirmed his decision to stay in office.
Sanford and Chapur's impassioned e-mails -- obtained by The State, South Carolina's largest daily newspaper -- became front-page headlines across continents.
In the e-mails, Sanford agonizes over the two's "hopelessly impossible situation of love," as Chapur wrote, "You are my love. ... Sometimes you don't choose things, they just happen. ... I can't redirect my feelings, and I am very happy with mine toward you."
Sanford's wife, Jenny, found out about the affair in January but was willing to forgive her husband of 20 years if he stopped his relationship with Chapur.
Jenny Sanford said she was devastated when she found out her husband took a secret trip a week and a half ago to visit Chapur again. The governor disappeared mysteriously without informing his friends, family, security detail and staff, whom he told about possible plans to go hiking on the Appalachian trail.
"He was told in no uncertain terms not to see her," Jenny Sanford told The Associated Press Saturday. "I was hoping he was on the Appalachian Trail. But I was not worried about his safety. I was hoping he was doing some real soul searching somewhere and devastated to find out it was Argentina. It's tragic."
Jenny Sanford, who has appeared remarkably poised through her husband's public embarrassment, said she believes her husband has now ended his relationship with Chapur.
The governor, who said he initially considered resigning, is now holding on to his turf, saying he will complete his remaining 18 months in office in full and work to repair both his public and private relationships.