John Edwards’ former mistress offered a public apology Tuesday for her role in the extramarital affair that effectively ended his marriage to his late wife, Elizabeth, and killed his political career.
Rielle Hunter, a videographer for Edwards' 2008 campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, offered her amends in an essay for the Huffington Post, conceding she “behaved badly” by cheating with the former North Carolina senator. Hunter gave birth to the couple's daughter, Frances, in February 2008.
“That may seem obvious to you but it's taken me a long time to admit that, even to myself,” Hunter wrote. “For years I was so viciously attacked by the media and the world that I felt like a victim. I now realize that the attacks are actually beside the point. The point is: I behaved badly.”
Hunter’s apology is timely. It comes on the same day as a rerelease of the memoir she wrote about her relationship with Edwards — one she says has been revised to reflect the mistakes she made during and after the affair.
Hunter apologized for her “wrong, selfish behavior,” admitting that she did not consider the “scope” of her actions when she became involved with Edwards in 2006 and how it “could hurt so many people.” She specifically apologized for the pain she inflicted on Elizabeth Edwards, who died of breast cancer in 2010.
“I hurt Elizabeth and her kids. I hurt her family. I hurt John's family. I hurt people that knew Elizabeth. I hurt people who didn't know Elizabeth but loved her from afar. I hurt people who gave their hard earned dollars to a campaign — a cause they believed in,” she wrote. “I hurt people who are married and believe in marriage. Many of these people have let me know that I hurt them. Unfortunately, I was not thinking about anyone but myself. I was selfish. I fell in love with John Edwards and wanted to be with him and that desire trumped everything else. “
Rumors of an affair between Edwards and Hunter first surfaced in the National Enquirer in 2007. But for more than a year, Edwards denied an affair — even after he was caught on camera by the National Enquirer going to visit Hunter and her baby in Los Angeles.
Last year, Edwards went on trial in North Carolina for allegedly misusing campaign funds to hide the affair with Hunter and subsequently the birth of their child. But he was acquitted after the trial ended in a split jury.
While John and Elizabeth Edwards never formally divorced, they lived apart after he confessed to being the father of Hunter’s child. While Edwards remains involved in his youngest daughter’s life, Hunter said in 2012 that her romantic relationship with him was over.
In her piece for the Huffington Post, Hunter blames her upbringing for her emotional callousness — explaining that she was the “product of infidelity.”
“I believe history often repeats itself if you do not take responsibility and change it. Infidelity is wrong. It hurts people. It hurt me and then I in turn also hurt people,” Hunter wrote. “It is a chain of pain. One I do not wish to pass on to my own daughter. I am sincerely sorry for my bad behavior, and for hurting anyone. If I hurt you, I am sorry. It was not my intention, I was thoughtless and selfish, and I am sorry.”