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Mother wants Jesse Jackson to 'be a father' to illegitimate child

Jackson has visited his daughter Ashley once in the last seven months, the child's mother says.
Jackson has visited his daughter Ashley once in the last seven months, the child's mother says.  

LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- The mother of the Rev. Jesse Jackson's 2-year-old daughter says she just wants Jackson "to be a father" to the child who was born after the two had an affair.

In an interview with ABC's "20/20," Karin Stanford, 39, the former head of the Washington office of Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH coalition, says her relationship with Jackson has become strained in the last year after she took him to court to formalize child support payments.

"I want Jesse Jackson to be a father to Ashley. I want us to have very clear visitation," says Stanford in an interview with Connie Chung to be aired Friday at 10 p.m. EDT on ABC. "He (Jackson) was born out of wedlock ... He understands the hurt and the pain it causes."

She said Jackson has only visited his daughter once in the last seven months -- a far cry from his frequent visits in the first year of her life.

"He was concerned about her just like any father would be. He checked on her, he came to visit her, he played with her," says Stanford. "She knew he was Daddy."

Jackson, she said, has been paying $4,000 a month in child support. Jackson has been married since 1963 to his wife, Jacqueline, and has five children with her.

Contacted by CNN, Jackson refused to go on camera to respond to Stanford's comments, saying such an interview "would harmfully expose the child."

"This child deserves the monthly support she receives, a life insurance policy, provisions for a college education and, most importantly, dignity and privacy," he said.

In the ABC interview, Stanford said she initially didn't inform Jackson she was pregnant because he was considering another run for the presidency in 2000. She said Jackson eventually withdrew his name as a potential candidate after learning of the pregnancy.

"I think he was concerned that because reporters were calling and asking about who the father of my baby was, his concern was that they would focus more on his personal life rather than his campaign platform," she says.

She said she doesn't think it was "hypocritical at all" for Jackson to be counseling President Clinton about the affair with Monica Lewinsky at the same time she was pregnant with Jackson's child.

"I think that he could empathize with President Clinton, because he was in a similar situation. And who better to give you advice than someone who's walked in your shoes?" Stanford says.

She adds that she was "shocked" when Jackson's lawyers asked her to sign a confidentiality agreement when she sought child support payments. She never signed it.

She says she and Jackson never tried to hide their relationship, going to public parks, concerts and movies together. She was not a woman seeking his money, she says.

"We didn't have conversations about money and coercion and blackmail," she says. "It just wasn't that kind of relationship."

Despite everything, Stanford says she's glad she had Ashley.

"I don't regret her for one second," she says. "I'm very proud of my decision not to terminate her. And I know it's caused a lot of pain. I know it's caused a lot of problems for people, but she's here, and she's happy and she's healthy."

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