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Republican Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens threatened to share a nude photo of the woman he had having an affair with if she didn’t keep quiet, according to the woman’s ex-husband.
St. Louis’ News 4 reports that Greitens, who married in 2011 and was elected governor in 2016, admitted to having an affair with the woman in March 2015. Greitens, however, denied via his lawyer James Bennett to having blackmailed the woman. Both the woman and her ex-husband have not been identified by the news station. The woman did not speak to the station on the record.
The ex-husband had originally come to News 4 a few months ago with an audio recording he had taken of a conversation with his ex-wife when they were still together, just days after Greitens and the woman first began the affair. The woman did not know her then-husband was recording her during her admission.
According to the recording, the woman revealed that she met Greitens at the salon where she cuts hair. After Greitens declined to meet in public, he had the woman come over to his house to talk. The woman said the encounter was consensual at first, then she did not know what was happening:
“He said: ‘I’ll make you feel better. I’ll make you feel good. Come downstairs. I want to show you how to do a proper pull-up.’ And I knew he was being sexual and I still let him. And he used some sort of tape, I don’t what it was, and taped my hands to these rings and then put a blindfold on me….I didn’t even know. I feel like I don’t even know. I was just numb. I just stood there and didn’t (expletive) know…He stepped back, I saw a flash through the blindfold and he said: ‘you’re never going to mention my name, otherwise there will be pictures of me [the woman] everywhere.'”
After her admission, she took the blame on the recording, then said that Greitens apologized after the encounter, and said he deleted the photo. In October of that same year, the ex-husband said the woman sent an email to Greitens telling him to stop coming to the salon she worked at. He and the woman divorced in March of 2016, and he had later called Greitens a “home wrecker” on social media that November.
The man told News 4 that he didn’t want to come forward about the story, but decided to get ahead of the allegations after being contacted by law enforcement and other media outlets. The ex-husband’s attorney Al Watkins also confirmed that he himself had been in contact with law enforcement over the story.
“I am not after anything, I am not a part of politics, I am not a part of anything, I just want to move on with my life,” the ex-husband said. “Something happened, churned this, and had people hounding me, even leaving a voicemail on my daughter’s phone. When that happened, everything changed.”
On Wednesday, after News 4 ran the story, Greitens’ lawyer Bennett released a statement denying that law enforcement was investigating the incident, and that the man’s claim of blackmail is false.
“This personal matter has been addressed by the Governor and Mrs. Greitens privately years ago when it happened,” Bennett’s statement read. “The outrageous claims of improper conduct regarding these almost three-year-ago events are false.”
Speaking to CNN, Bennett said that the woman did not sign a non-disclosure agreement, and did not request to sign one. He also stated that Greitens had never before been accused of misconduct by else aside from the woman he had an affair with.
When further questioned by News 4, Greitens and his wife Sheena released a joint statement admitting to his affair, and shared that Sheena had forgiven him. They did not address the photo in the statement.
“We understand that there will be some people who cannot forgive—but for those who can find it in your heart, Eric asks for your forgiveness, and we are grateful for your love, your compassion, and your prayers,” the couple wrote.
“We have a loving marriage and an awesome family; anything beyond that is between us and God. I want the media and those who wish to peddle gossip to stay away from me and my children,” Sheena added.
Samantha Grasso is a former IRL staff writer for the Daily Dot with a reporting emphasis on immigration. Her work has appeared on Los Angeles Magazine, Death And Taxes, Revelist, Texts From Last Night, Austin Monthly, and she has previously contributed to Texas Monthly.