Arnie hits back at sex claims

by TONY BONNICI and DAVID GARDNER, Daily Mail

Arnold Schwarzenegger last night issued a public apology for behaving badly to women.

The Terminator star, who hopes to be elected governor of California next week, was facing allegations that he had groped six women, including British TVpresenter Anna Richardson.

He told supporters at a rally: "Yes, I have behaved badly sometimes.

"Yes, it is true that I was on rowdy movie sets . . . and I have done things I thought were playful that I now recognize have offended people.

"I want to say to them that I am deeply sorry, because that is not what I was trying to do.

"When I am governor I will prove to them that I will be a champion for women.

"I hope you will give me the chance to prove this."

The former bodybuilder was in San Diego beginning a four-day tour of the state.

His move was prompted by a story in the Los Angeles Times detailing the women's claims.

His aides claim Republican Schwarzenegger is the victim of a dirty tricks campaign by the Democrats.

According to the polls, he has 40 per cent of the vote while Democrat Cruz Bustamante has 32 per cent.

The 56-year-old actor did not go into detail about the allegations against him but said: "I know the people of California will see through this trash politics.

"A lot of the stuff in the story is not true - but I have to say that where there's smoke there's fire."

Miss Richardson told yesterday how Schwarzenegger touched her breast as she tried to interview him.

They met at the Dorchester Hotel in London in December, 2000 to promote his film The Sixth Day on her LWT show Big Screen.

Vicar's daughter Miss Richardson, who was 29 at the time, explained that she had interviewed him before and he had been a "perfect gentleman".

"This time around was quite different," she said.

"He kept looking at my breasts, kept asking if I worked out.

"I went to shake his hand and he grabbed me onto his knee and he said "Before you go, I want to know if your breasts are real".'

She replied that they were and "at that point, he circled my left nipple with his finger and he said, 'Yes, they are real'."

She said he then let her go.

At the time a spokesman for the film laughed off the incident, saying: "Arnie is a big flirt, as is Anna.

"Most presenters know how tohandle him and understand he's just flirting."

However, his publicist has now blamed Miss Richardson, claiming she cupped her right breast in her hand, asking: "What do you think of these?"

According to the publicist she then sat on Schwarzenegger's lap before being escorted out.

During the same tour the actor, married to Maria Shriver for 17 years, was accused of groping Denise Van Outen while being interviewed on The Big Breakfast.

Challenged about his behaviour he replied: "It was a handful. I never know if my wife's watching. I'll tell her it was a stuntman."

The incident did not form part of the LA Times investigation.

But another woman, E. Laine Stockton, said the star fondled her in a gym in 1975, when she was 19. He allegedly walked up behind her, grabbed her breast under her T-shirt, then silently walked away.

Two crew members who worked on Terminator 2: Judgment Day in 1990 also claimed to be victims.

One said he groped her at least three times in a lift.

The other said he pulled her onto his lap and whispered vulgarities while other men looked on, smiling.

Last night the actor's spokesman said: "We believe Democrats and others are using this to try to hurt his campaign."

Such tactics would deter decent people from running for office.

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