Jesse Jackson Admits Affair, Illegitimate Child

ByABC News
January 18, 2001, 3:54 AM

Jan. 18 -- Moving to pre-empt a tabloid newspaper report, the Rev. Jesse Jackson this morning released a statement admitting he had an extramarital affair that resulted in a daughter who is now 20 months old.

"This is no time for evasions, denials or alibis," said the Baptist minister and former aide to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. "I fully accept responsibility and I am truly sorry for my actions."

Had Affair as He Counseled Clinton

The age of the daughter indicates Jackson, 59, was likely having the affair with Karin Stanford, a 39-year-old worker at his Rainbow/PUSH Coalition office in Washington, even as he counseled President Clinton after public revelations of an affair with Monica Lewinsky, an intern at the White House.

"He was really one of President Clinton's closest spiritual advisers and really friends through this whole ordeal," says ABCNEWS political analyst George Stephanopoulos. "He went to the White House and prayed with President Clinton. They got down on their knees, we heard, in the residence. He counseled Chelsea and Mrs. Clinton really became a close friend to the family and they really bonded through this whole ordeal."

Jackson is president and founder of Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, a prominent civil rights organization. He has twice run for president, and has been active in political causes including the current "week of moral outrage" to protest the alleged disenfranchisement of blacks in Florida's presidential vote.

Jackson had planned to speak at a rally in Tallahassee scheduled to coincide with George W. Bush's presidential inauguration on Saturday. His office has not confirmed whether he still plans to attend the event.

Before joining Rainbow/PUSH, Stanford was a college professor who had written on Jackson.

Extremely Painful for Family

Since the birth of the illegitimate child, Jackson says, he has been providing the child "emotional and financial" support.

In his statement, Jackson adds that he has been trying to explain the development to his wife of 38 years and their five children.