As rumors swirl that “Rhythm Nation” star Janet Jackson is pregnant with her current husband’s baby, her ex-husband, James DeBarge, told Radar Online in an exclusive interview Tuesday they had a secret love child when Jackson was a teenager. The singer hid the pregnancy from him — and the world, he says. He didn’t find out about it until the child, a daughter, contacted him for the first time two years ago.

“She called me ‘papa,'” DeBarge told Radar Online about his supposed daughter, whose name wasn't revealed. “She didn’t want to get her mom in trouble. She wanted to do it quietly. She didn’t even want Janet to know.”

Even though he didn’t know for sure, DeBarge had a feeling Jackson had a baby. “I hadn’t known [that Janet had a baby] … not for sure,” he said. “I went on a search. Someone went through some serious changes to make it impossible for me to find. This had to be some serious inside work being done with the paperwork. Someone was working with them.”

If DeBarge, now 52, had known about his child, he would have been in her life, he says. “It would have to be hidden from me if she wasn’t a part of my life all the time and I didn’t know anything about her,” he explained. “There’s no way it could not have been hidden. I didn’t know. Had I known, I would never have kept it a [secret]. I would have been very proud of her.”

The “Unbreakable” star gave her first baby up for adoption out of fear, DeBarge said.  “From every angle, from inside and outside … not knowing how it could hurt her career. A lot of outside influences were involved in our whole relationship to where we didn’t have a chance from the gate,” DeBarge said.

Jackson, 49, has not responded to the “secret” love child claims. She recently canceled her tour, which started the pregnancy rumors. Entertainment Tonight Online was the first to confirm Jackson that is expecting with second husband Wissam al Mana. They have been married since 2012.

It was first reported that Jackson had a supposed secret baby by Star magazine in 1994, which was 10 years after her marriage to DeBarge was annulled. Jackson did not respond to the accusation back then, either.

Janet Jackson Janet Jackson is reportedly pregnant with her husband Wissam Al Mana’s baby. Above, the couple is pictured in 2013. Photo: Getty Images

Follow me on Twitter @mariamzzarella