Nightly News | February 06, 2012
>>> 50 years ago a 19-year-old student at wheaton college in massachusetts arrived in washington for an internship in the white house press office. now all these years later, mimi alford says her experience in the executive mansion included an 18-month long affair with then president john f. kennedy . she had planned never to speak of it until her story ended up in a prominent historian's biography of jfk a few years back. now she's chosen to talk in a new book out this week called "once upon a secret." meredith vieira has the story in an exclusive interview.
>> most mornings when i woke up, i thought, i don't want to get up and write this book. i want to hide under the covers.
>> reporter: what made you then get out from under the covers?
>> i think when you keep a secret, and when you keep silent about something, you do it because you think it's keeping you safe, but in fact, it's deadly.
>> reporter: the secret, claims alford , started in the summer of 1962 , when the 19-year-old debutante from a prominent new jersey family began what she says was an 18-month affair with president john f. kennedy . the revelation was first revealed in 2003 when historian robert dallek wrote in his biography of jfk , that a small, slender, beautiful white house intern was rumored to be among the president's many paramours. at the time, mimi declined to offer details. she issued a short statement, then disappeared. now she is talking, and says her first close encounter with the president took place in this indoor heated pool at the white house . the invitation came from the president's aide dave powers , who asked her and two other staffers to join us for a swim. never mentioning that the "us" included jfk . you find yourself four days into your internship at the white house and you're in the swimming pool with the president of the united states .
>> it didn't seem unnatural just because everybody was friendly and i went back to work after.
>> reporter: you dried off and went back. nobody blinked about it?
>> no one said anything.
>> reporter: hours later she said she was invited back to the white house residence and taken on a private tour of some of the rooms by the president, where she lost her virginity to him in jackie kennedy 's room.
>> reporter: you wrote, "i wouldn't describe what happened that night as making love , but i wouldn't call it as nonconsensual either. he maneuvered me swiftly and unexpectedly and with authority and strength, short of screaming, i doubt i could have done anything to thwart his intentions." it almost makes it sounds like you did feel some what overpowered.
>> i think overpowered in the sense he was the president. he was this unbelievably handsome man, 45 years old. not overpowered physically that someone grabbed me and made me do something that i wasn't really willing to do, because i really think i was willing to do it.
>> and you can see meredith vieira 's full interview with mimi alford this week on "rock center" at our new time. that's wednesday night at 9:00/8:00 central.