Politics & Government

John, Elizabeth Edwards are legally separated

John and Elizabeth Edwards have separated, severing a union that has been relentlessly scrutinized since the disclosure of the former presidential candidate's messy affair.

Both acknowledged Wednesday what had been rumored for weeks: that they are living apart. The admission came on the day that sordid details emerged from a new book, "The Politician," by a former top aide, Andrew Young. It portrays a deeply troubled marriage behind a public image of marital bliss. Young says Edwards recruited him to help conduct and conceal the affair and to claim paternity of the child Edwards fathered.

The book offers behind-the-scenes details about Edwards' liaison with former campaign videographer Rielle Hunter, and the double life he led as he campaigned for the presidency of the United States. It includes claims of a sex tape, Edwards' desire for his lover to have an abortion and his repeated lies to his wife, his staff and the public.

Elizabeth Edwards, nearly as well known as her husband because of her bout with cancer and her two best-sellers, also acknowledged the separation. Andrea Purse, a spokeswoman, said Elizabeth Edwards "is moving on with her life and wants to put this difficult chapter behind her." Elizabeth Edwards' sister, Nancy Anania, told People magazine that Elizabeth said, "I've had it. I can't do this. I want my life back."

Last week, Edwards admitted he fathered the child of Rielle Hunter, Frances Quinn Hunter, who will turn 2 next month. On Wednesday evening, he pledged his devotion to his children.

"It is an extraordinarily sad moment, but I love my children more than anything and still care deeply about Elizabeth," the former North Carolina senator and Democratic vice presidential candidate said in a statement.

He and Elizabeth Edwards have three children. A teenage son died in an auto accident years ago.

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