Arnold Schwarzenegger has admitted having a child with a member of his household staff which apparently made his wife Maria Shriver leave him.
The former Hollywood star and governor of California and Ms Shriver jointly announced on May 9 that they were splitting up after 25 years of marriage.
But Ms Shriver moved out of the family's mansion earlier in the year after Mr Schwarzenegger acknowledged the child was his.
"After leaving the governor's office I told my wife about this event, which occurred over a decade ago," Mr Schwarzenegger said.
"I understand and deserve the feelings of anger and disappointment among my friends and family. There are no excuses and I take full responsibility for the hurt I have caused. I have apologised to Maria, my children and my family. I am truly sorry.
"I ask that the media respect my wife and children through this extremely difficult time," the statement concluded. "While I deserve your attention and criticism, my family does not."
Hours later, Ms Shriver also released a statement saying: "This is a painful and heartbreaking time. As a mother, my concern is for the children. I ask for compassion, respect and privacy as my children and I try to rebuild our lives and heal. I will have no further comment."
The Los Angeles Times which broke the story did not publish the mother's name nor that of her child but said she worked for the family for 20 years and retired in January.
Mr Schwarzenegger issued his statement to the Times after the newspaper had interviewed the former worker. She had told the Times that another man - her husband at the time - was the child's father. When the Times later informed the woman of the governor's statement, she declined to comment further.
The child was born before Mr Schwarzenegger began his seven-year stint in public office.