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Rielle Hunter made national headlines for her relationship with married senator and aspiring presidential candidate John Edwards in 2007.
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After becoming a tabloid sensation, Hunter spent months hiding out with Young, Young's wife and their family in different locations. In February 2008, she gave birth to daughter Frances Quinn Hunter in Santa Barbara, California. No father is listed on the child's birth certificate. She eventually parted ways with the Youngs, and later ended up suing the Youngs over a sex tape of her and Edwards that was in their possession.
Now on her own,
Hunter had some financial support from Edwards supporter Fred Baron. "It was never hush money," Hunter later explained to The New York Times. That July, the National Inquirer published an item about Edwards visiting Hunter and her daughter at a Los Angeles hotel. Edwards finally acknowledged the affair the following month, but he still denied paternity of Hunter's child.
Federal investigators began examining how some of Edwards's campaign funds were used. In August 2009, Hunter testified in front of a grand jury in North Carolina about money given to her production company. More sordid details of her affair with Edwards came to light that December with the publication of Andrew Young's book on the Edwards campaign, entitled The Politician. Hunter later told GQ that "I'll say this about Andrew's book: If his grand-jury testimony matches his book, I would suspect that they will be looking at him for many, many counts of perjury."
In 2010, Edwards finally admitted to being Frances Quinn's father. He said, in a statement, that "It was wrong for me ever to deny she was my daughter, and, hopefully, one day, when she understands, she will forgive me," according to ABC News. That April, Hunter gave a revealing interview to GQ, which was accompanied by some racy photos of her. She was then caught in a media backlash over the images. Hunter allegedly was looking to stir up trouble. As she explained to The New York Times, ''What I was thinking was, I would like to have one sexy shot where the world can see me as—as a beautiful woman, as opposed to all those photos that are out there of me looking like some Wicked Witch of the West, the ugliest thing you could ever imagine.''
Around this time, Hunter also gave an interview to Oprah Winfrey. She told the popular television personality that she didn't break up Edwards's marriage. "It’s not my experience that a third party can wreck a home. A home is wrecked before a third party comes into the picture," she said. Hunter explained that she wanted to help Edwards to find his "authentic self."
Edwards went on trial in 2012 on charges connected to the possible misuse of campaign funds for expenses related to Hunter. In May, he was found not guilty on one count and the remaining five counts were declared to be a mistrial. Hunter made headlines that June with the publication of her memoir, What Really Happened: John Edwards, Our Daughter, and Me. She told People magazine that she and Edwards "are still a couple," and he visits his daughter regularly.
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