Update: Candidate Arnold Apologizes
10/02/2003 AT 10:38 AM EDT
"Yes, I have behaved badly sometimes, yes, it is true that I was on rowdy movie sets," said Schwarzenegger, 56, according to the news service, "and I have done things I thought were playful that now I recognize that I have offended people.
"I want to say to them that I am deeply sorry about that, and I apologize because that is not what I was trying to do," he added. "When I am governor I will prove to women that I will be a champion for women. I hope you will give me the chance to prove this."
Prior to Schwarzenegger's admission of past indiscretions, officials in his campaign denied the accusations and called the Times's expose politically motivated. Schwarzenegger, holding to the belief that the story was politically motivated, went on to admit at the San Diego rally, "Where there is smoke there is fire," Reuters reports.
What sparked the extraordinary apology was a series of allegations by six women who say the "Terminator" star touched them sexually without their consent on movie sets and other places over the past three decades, the Los Angeles Times reported. The allegations came to light less than a week before the Oct. 7 recall election.
No legal action was ever taken against Schwarzenegger by the women, the Times noted.
Schwarzenegger's campaign spokesman, Sean Walsh, denied the allegations, and told the newspaper: "We believe Democrats and others are using this to try to hurt Arnold Schwarzenegger's campaign. ... We believe that this is coming so close before the election, something that discourages good, hard-working, decent people from running for office."
Walsh initially added that Schwarzenegger himself would not comment.