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Woman says she had affair with JFK

New presidential biography mentions affair with an intern

Mimi Fahnestock, center, said she had an affair with JFK.
Mimi Fahnestock, center, said she had an affair with JFK.

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NEW YORK (CNN) -- A woman on Thursday said she had an affair with John F. Kennedy, an admission that comes after a new biography alleges a liaison between JFK and a White House intern.

In a statement handed to media outside her East Side apartment, Mimi Fahnestock said, "From June 1962 to November 1963, I was involved in a sexual relationship with President Kennedy.

"For the last 41 years, it is a subject that I have not discussed. In view of the recent media coverage, I have now discussed the relationship with my children and my family, and they are completely supportive.

"I will have no further comment on this subject, period. I would request that the media respect my privacy and the privacy of my family in this matter."

In an interview with the Daily News, which broke the story Thursday, Fahnestock said she was the White House intern in question and that the relationship with Kennedy started when she was 19. She is now a 60-year-old grandmother.

The revelations about Kennedy's alleged affair take up just a few lines in historian Robert Dallek's 700-plus page book titled An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917-1963. Dallek said he obtained the information from a former Kennedy staffer who did not give the intern's name.

Most of the book describes the health problems Kennedy struggled with throughout his life.

A friend of Fahnestock, interviewed by the media outside her apartment, said she was "surprised" to learn of the romance, "but it's kind of a 'so what.' "

"She is the least likely person I would have expected to have had a romance, but I think probably Jack Kennedy would have gone to bed with anybody," said Joan "Bitsy" Tatnall.

She quickly indicated she wasn't being dismissive of Fahnestock, saying her friend is attractive, smart and athletic.

Fahnestock's story recalls President Clinton's sexual indiscretions with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Clinton was impeached by the House in December 1998 on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice stemming from his affair with Lewinsky when she was a White House intern. The Senate acquitted Clinton in February 1999.

There have been numerous reports about Kennedy's sexual dalliances while in the White House. But Dallek's biography is the first to describe an affair involving a White House intern.

Dallek said he obtained the information about Fahnestock, who worked in the White House press office, from a 1960s oral history transcript by Barbara Gamarekian, a press aide in the Kennedy White House. In the oral history, she recalled her experiences for the Kennedy Library.

Dallek told CNN that 17 pages of the history were blacked out, but Gamarekian agreed to give him access to them.

"I guess, almost 40 years later, she felt there was no harm," Dallek said. But Gamarekian refused to give the author the intern's name.

"She understandably said, 'I don't want to embarrass her. I won't give you the name,' and I said fine," Dallek said. He said he was unable to turn up the name anywhere else.

Gamarekian said the intern traveled with Kennedy during the summers as part of her job, according to Dallek.

Asked whether first lady Jacqueline Kennedy knew about the infidelities, Dallek told CNN's Wolf Blitzer, "I think Jacqueline Kennedy knew about the infidelities, but I don't know that she had any specific knowledge of this intern."

Fahnestock, who has two married daughters, works at a Presbyterian church as a Web site manager. She was married to Anthony Fahnestock, who died in 1993.

The pastor of Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church where Fahnestock works expressed support for her. "She's a very respected, trusted member of our church and our staff family, and we all love her and we're behind her 100 percent," said Tom Tewell.

Meanwhile, the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston, Massachusetts, is looking forward to Dallek's appearance at a forum Tuesday, library spokesman Tom McNaught said. The library had invited Dallek to the forum before the news about Fahnestock broke.

"We're delighted to be the first forum in the country to host him," McNaught said. "We are a presidential library and we're devoted to making presidential history accessible. Besides, not everyone has to agree with his findings."

The library just hosted its biggest event of the year, the annual Profiles in Courage awards, named after a book written by Kennedy.


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