A third woman came forward Wednesday claiming Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo is the father of her child — this one a 16-month-old boy she named after late Pope John Paul II.
The growing number of paternity claims against Lugo less than a year into his presidency has embarrassed the government and put the opposition on the attack. But in Paraguay's macho culture, political analysts say, the idea that the former bishop has fathered multiple children may even help him, by making him appear to be a strong leader.
The latest woman to claim a child with Lugo is a 39-year-old divorcee with two adult children who said she met Lugo three years ago, after he gave up his church leadership position. And while the two other women are pursuing paternity claims, she says has no plans to sue the president.
Meanwhile, Paraguayan newspaper Ultima Hora reported that the first woman to come forward, a former parishioner, Viviana Carrillo, now 26, moved into the president's home along with her 2-year-old boy, whom Lugo has acknowledged as his son.
Lugo appealed for privacy earlier this week and referred all questions about paternity claims to his lawyer, who had no comment on Wednesday's revelations. But his rivals have seized on the scandal.
"He competed in the elections a year ago as an honest person, but it turns out he's a fake because while he was a bishop he had a romantic relationship and a child," said Sen. Lilian Samaniego, leader of the opposition Colorado Party, on Tuesday.
'I do not need money'
The latest case involves Damiana Hortensia Moran Amarilla, who said she met Lugo in 2006 while working as a church outreach worker in the city of San Lorenzo. She said she worked as a local coordinator for Lugo's alliance during his presidential campaign and still backs his government.
"I fell in love because as a man, he is phenomenal. He is charismatic. He was my ideal of a man and social-political leader," Moran told Channel 4 television. "I do not need money or his last name for the child, because I can support my family. I am the owner of a child day care center and have plenty of work."
Moran said she named the child Juan Pablo to honor Pope John Paul II, who died in 2005.
"I honestly hoped I could make a new family with (Lugo), but it was not possible," she said.
Moran is the third woman to go public with paternity allegations against Lugo, after Carrillo and then Benigna Leguizamon, an impoverished soap-seller who accused the president on Monday of fathering her 6-year-old boy.
After failed attempts at an out-of-court settlement, Leguizamon filed a paternity suit in Ciudad del Este on Wednesday, asking for court-ordered DNA tests.
"She is determined to go forward with the complaint," her lawyer Seong Je Park told Catholic-run Caritas radio.
Other women could come forward as well, according to one of Lugo's former church colleagues, Bishop Rogelio Livieres. He alleged Tuesday that Lugo did not deny it when women in his diocese complained in writing to a Vatican representative that he had fathered their children. The Church later allowed Lugo to resign his leadership position without making the complaints public.
The Paraguayan bishops' conference denied receiving "formal written complaints" about Lugo or covering up immoral conduct.
Repeated attempts by The Associated Press to reach Livieres were unsuccessful Tuesday and Wednesday.
'Proof of his virility'
Lugo's resignation in 2004 as bishop of San Pedro was never fully explained. It wasn't until December 2006 that he renounced his bishop status to run for president, and Pope Benedict XVI didn't accept his resignation, relieving him of chastity vows, until weeks before he took office in August 2008.
Lugo, 57, said he would make no more comments about paternity claims after reading a brief statement this week promising to "act always in line with the truth and subject myself to all the requirements presented by the justice system."
Many Paraguayans consider the scandal a black eye for both the government and the Roman Catholic Church, to which 90 percent of Paraguayans belong, but oddly enough, it may enhance his image in the "patriarchal, profoundly macho society," political analyst Alfredo Boccia said.
"Lugo has given proof of his virility and that is an inherent attribute ... that a part of the population expects from its leader," Boccia said.
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