By Tim Padgett
Wednesday, Apr. 15, 2009
It's a priest-meets-girl drama that's now a president-admits-baby scandal. According to a paternity suit filed in Paraguay last week, Fernando Lugo was 48 years old when, a decade ago, he began an amorous relationship with a 16-year-old girl, Viviana Carrillo, in the impoverished San Pedro province. Lugo at the time was a Roman Catholic bishop — and Carrillo was preparing for the sacrament of Confirmation. Lugo denies that the affair began when Carillo was a minor. But she says she was "seduced by the way he talked, his pretty words, his beautiful expressions," according to the suit, "and by his promises that he would resign his position for me, that he would spend his life with me, that we would have many children together and form a household."
Lugo did eventually resign as bishop of San Pedro — but just months before leaving the priesthood, he conceived a child with Carrillo in 2006, when she was 24. (The boy, Guillermo, turns two next month.) A year ago this weekend Lugo was elected President of Paraguay. Now, in response to the lawsuit, Lugo has come clean about the affair. "Here and now, before people and my conscience, I declare with absolute honesty and a sense of duty and transparency," the President said on Monday, "that there was a relationship with Viviana Carrillo." He added: "I assume all responsibilities, and I recognize that I'm the father of the child." Says Claudio Kostinchok, one of the lawyers who filed the suit for Carrillo: "I think he showed that his clerical and political ambitions mattered more to him than this woman and child." (See the top 10 political sex scandals.) ...
Nonetheless, Lugo, who has long been dogged by rumors about the affair, as well as others, finally felt compelled to come forward. "He's taking the honorable steps," says Farina. Perhaps. But Lugo's behavior leading up to his Monday admission was reminiscent of former U.S. President Bill Clinton before he conceded his affair with Monica Lewinsky in 1998. Lugo kept even his closest aides in the dark about the truth.