- The Washington Times - Monday, April 20, 2009

ASUNCION, PARAGUAY (AP) - Paraguay’s president was hit with another paternity claim Monday, just a week after the former Roman Catholic bishop acknowledged fathering a different illegitimate child while still subject to his vows of chastity.

Lugo, 57, did not confirm nor deny fathering the 6-year-old boy, but read a brief statement promising to “act always in line with the truth and subject myself to all the requirements presented by the justice system.” He also appealed for privacy, referring all questions about paternity claims to his lawyer.

Two of Lugo’s cabinet ministers said they were initiating judicial proceedings against their boss on the latest woman’s behalf, and vowed to order DNA tests if Lugo doesn’t recognize paternity.

Women’s Minister Gloria Rubin said Lugo later told her agreed to DNA tests and said he would talk to the woman to try to reach an understanding with her.

When Lugo admitted last week that he fathered a 2-year-old boy with a different former parishioner, saying he would “assume all responsibilities” for the boy, analysts predicted his forthright response would disarm the potential scandal.

Now another paternity claim is sure to give his opponents more ammunition.

Lugo said attorney Marcos Farina, who represents him in the other paternity case, would handle this claim as well.

Lugo said last week that he was acting with a sense of “absolute honesty and a sense of duty and transparency” to acknowledge his relationship with Viviana Carrillo,” the 2-year-old’s mother.

Benigna Leguizamon, an impoverished soap-seller, said Lugo’s admission inspired her to go public about her 6-year-old.

“I decided to make this claim through the media before going to the courts after seeing that last week Viviana Carrillo got President Lugo to recognize their child,” she said.

Leguizamon said she arrived in Lugo’s San Pedro diocese in 2000 at age 17 with an infant daughter and worked in the bishopric, where she began a relationship with Lugo. She told her story in interviews Monday with Paraguay’s Ultima Hora newspaper, Channel 4 television network and the Uno and Caritas de Asuncion radio stations.

Her son was born in September 2002, but she said Lugo gave her little money to support him and so she began a relationship with another man and now has four children. She said she earns a living selling homemade soaps and detergents door-to-door.

The Women’s Ministry and the Childhood and Adolescence Ministry sent officials to interview Leguizamon and begin paternity procedures on Monday in Ciudad del Este, the eastern city where she lives near Paraguay’s border with Brazil and Argentina.

“Lugo is my boss, but we’re acting anyway,” Childhood and Adolescence Minister Liz Torres said. “The child has the right to know who its father is, to bear his last name and receive help from him.”

Many Paraguayans said the paternity scandal has been a black eye for both the government and the Catholic Church, to which 90 percent of Paraguayans say they belong.

Lugo resigned in 2004 as bishop of San Pedro, in the landlocked nation’s poorest province, and in December 2006 announced he was renouncing his bishop status to run for president. Pope Benedict XVI didn’t give him permission to resign, relieving him of his chastity vows, until July 2008, after insisting during Lugo’s campaign that he would always be a bishop under church law.

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