John Edwards Admits He Fathered Ex-Mistress's Child

updated 01/21/2010 AT 09:15 AM EST

originally published 01/21/2010 AT 07:15 AM EST

Two-time former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards has finally admitted he is the father of 2-year-old child of his former mistress, Rielle Hunter, it was announced by NBC News on Thursday's Today show.

Attorneys for the former North Carolina senator say he's been providing financial support for 2-year-old Quinn for about a year, and Edwards has recently signed a child-support agreement with Hunter.

In a statement to NBC, Edwards says: "I am Quinn's father. I will do everything in my power to provide her with the love and support she deserves. I have been able to spend time with her during the past year and trust that future efforts to show her the love and affection she deserves can be done privately and in peace."

He continues: "It was wrong for me ever to deny she was my daughter and hopefully one day, when she understands, she will forgive me. I have been providing financial support for Quinn and have reached an agreement with her mother to continue providing support in the future.

"To all those I have disappointed and hurt these words will never be enough, but I am truly sorry."

Earlier Denials

In August 2008, Edwards, after earlier denials that he was involved in an extramarital relationship, confirmed that he did have an affair with Hunter, a videographer he met on his 2008 campaign.

At the time, Edwards, now 56, denied ever having loved Hunter or having fathered her daughter, saying his relationship with Hunter ended before the child was conceived.

Until Edwards's new declaration, former campaign aide Andrew Young has maintained that he was the father of the child.

Last year, Edwards said that Hunter accompanied him around the U.S. and to Africa. He also said his wife, Elizabeth, and other family members became aware of the relationship in 2006. Edwards stressed that his wife's cancer was in remission when he began the affair.

Elizabeth Edwards, 60, is battling breast cancer, first diagnosed in 2004. After initial treatment, Elizabeth announced in 2007 that her cancer had returned and is incurable.

Elizabeth has said that learning of her husband's affair made her physically ill. Speaking to Oprah Winfrey last May, she described her feelings toward her husband as "complicated."

The Edwards are now said to be living apart, according to NBC News, which also reported that he is keeping a low profile as an investigation takes place to see if federal funds might have been used to cover up the scandal.

Elizabeth Edwards, who is still undergoing cancer treatment, learned last summer that Quinn is her husband's child, said a spokesperson.

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