The Terminator star and Shriver split up last month (May11) after 25 years of marriage, sparking a scandal when it subsequently emerged he has a 13-year-old son with the pair's longtime aide Mildred Baena.
Now Baena has spoken out for the first time since the scandal emerged, revealing she broke down in tears when Shriver asked her outright if her husband was the natural father after noticing son Joseph's resemblance to the star.
Baena tells Britain's Hello! magazine, "Last summer, I brought Joseph over to the house. Until then, he hadn't been around very much. After that, people in the house started whispering about how much they looked like each other. It is my belief Maria heard the whispers...
"She would say things like, 'I'm here if you need to talk.' I sensed something was up. I have so much love and respect for Maria... She would ask if I needed to talk to her and I kept saying no. Finally, she asked point blank.
"The details of the discussions between Maria, Arnold and myself are private. What is important is that Maria did ask me directly if Joseph was Arnold's son and I just broke down. I dropped to my knees and I was crying, saying that yes, he was and I was so sorry.
"She was so strong. She cried with me and told me to get off my knees. We held each other and I told her it wasn't Arnold's fault, that it takes two. This is what I admired about her, her strength and the way she handled it. Since I was retiring soon, I said I would pack and leave right away, but she said to stay until after the holidays. When she returned from her trip, I asked her what she was going to do and she said she didn't know. I told her to work it out, that it could be fixed..."
And Baena hopes Schwarzenegger and Shriver manage to salvage their marriage, adding, "I'm sorry that someone felt the need to expose this. He knows I would never say or do anything to hurt him. He's a good man and I know he's suffering too.
"He loves Maria. I hope with time they work things out. A choice was made many years ago that I kept secret for 14 years, but now it's known and I'm hoping people just leave it alone and we can get on with our lives."