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Late US Senator's Family Acknowledges Daughter's Claim - 2003-12-16

The family of the late U.S. Senator Strom Thurmond has acknowledged a 78-year-old African American woman's claim that she is the senator's illegitimate daughter.

Essie Mae Washington-Williams told the Washington Post last week that the senator had acknowledged her as his daugher in 1941. Her mother worked as a maid in the Thurmond family's South Carolina home at the time Ms. Washington-Williams was born.

The Thurmond family attorney released a statement Monday in Columbia acknowledging Ms. Washington-Williams' claim to her heritage, and saying it hoped the acknowledgement would bring her closure.

After reading the statement, the attorney refused further comment.

Ms. Washington-Williams explained last week that she kept the secret throughout her lifetime because she did not want to hurt the senator's career. She came forward now at the urging of her children.

Senator Thurmond died in June at the age of 100.

Some information for this report provided by AP.