Four long years after The ENQUIRER exposed JOHN EDWARDS' extamarital affair and love child in a series of bombshell exclusive reports, it took the conclusion of a federal criminal trial for the disgraced former presidential candidate to FINALLY pay some lip service to his love child — 4-year-old FRANCES QUINN — who he had with mistress RIELLE HUNTER!

After long denying paternity, Edwards went in front of the media outside the courtroom to say how much he loved his children and dramatically included a shout out to Quinn — without mentioning Rielle's name. An emotional Edwards said he is so "grateful" for his "precious Quinn, who I love more than any of you could ever imagine."

His talk followed the outcome of the trial in which a North Carolina jury found him not guilty on one of six counts of violating campaign finance law. The judge declared a mistrial on the other five counts.

The prosecution accused Edwards of using nearly $1 million from wealthy campaign backers to hide his affair with Hunter during his bid for presidency in 2008.

The ENQUIRER broke the news of Edwards' affair in 2007 and in 2008 revealed "spy photos" of him holding Quinn in a secret meeting with Hunter.

After deliberating for nine days, the jury found Edwards not guilty one count of illegal campaign contributions involving $375,000 that heiress RACHEL "BUNNY" MELLON gave in 2008. It is unclear whether prosecutors will retry Edwards on the other counts.

Outside the courtroom, Edwards said, "I want to make sure that everyone hears from me … that while I don't believe I did anything illegal, I did an awful, awful lot that was wrong and there is no one else responsible for my sins."

Edwards also publicly thanked the jury, calling them "very impressive."