Republican Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens has been indicted more than one month after admitting to an affair with a woman who says he took nonconsensual nude images of her and used them as blackmail.
Greitens was charged in St. Louis on Thursday with a first-degree felony for invasion of privacy, Missouri court documents shared by CNN reveal. The indictment says Greitens took a picture of someone in “full or partial nudity” without that person’s knowledge or consent, and that he transmitted the image “in a manner that allowed access to that image via a computer.”
Circuit attorney for St. Louis, Kimberly M. Gardner, said that sharing the image in that manner is a felony under the invasion of privacy statute.
In January, St. Louis’ News 4 reported that Greitens, who was married in 2011 and elected as governor in 2016, admitted to having an affair with a woman in March 2015. The woman’s now ex-husband came forward months earlier saying Greitens had taken a nude photo of his then-wife and threatened to share it if she didn’t keep quiet.
While Greitens denied the blackmail allegations, the ex-husband had recorded a conversation with his wife, without her knowledge, just days after the beginning of the affair. In the recordings, she said the encounter was sexual at first, but then Greitens had taped her hands to some sort of structure, placed a blindfold on her, and then she saw a flash through the blindfold. She said Greitens then told her, “‘You’re never going to mention my name,’ otherwise there will be pictures of me everywhere.”
At the time, Greitens and his wife Sheena released a joint statement via their lawyer addressing the affair and denying the allegations.
“This personal matter has been addressed by the Governor and Mrs. Greitens privately years ago when it happened,” the lawyer’s statement read. “The outrageous claims of improper conduct regarding these almost three-year-ago events are false.”
Gardner, the circuit attorney, said the circuit launched a formal investigation after Greitens admitted to the affair, and vowed it would “hold public officials accountable in the same manner as any other resident.” The Circuit Attorney’s Office reported that Greitens’ lawyers had requested a “secret” meeting with the office prior to the indictment, and wanted to share the “human” side of their client’s story.
“We will carefully examine the facts contained in the indictment, and answer the question as to whether or not the governor can lead our state while a felony case moves forward,” a statement from Missouri House Speaker Todd Richardson, Floor Leader Rob Vescovo and Speaker Pro Tem Elijah Haahr read. “The people of Missouri deserve no less. We will begin the process of tasking a group of legislators to investigate these serious charges.”