Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens (R) was arrested and indicted on Thursday on a felony invasion of privacy charge stemming from a 2015 incident in which he allegedly took nude photos of a woman without her consent.
“Today, a City of St. Louis Grand Jury indicted [Greitens] on a Felony Invasion of Privacy charge for an incident that took place on March 21, 2015 in the city of St. Louis,” St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly M. Garder said in a statement. “Under Missouri law, the Grand Jury has found probable cause to believe that Governor Greitens violated Missouri State Statute 565.252, which was in place at the time of the violation.”
According to Gardner, that statute — which prohibits individuals from photographing or taping someone “in a state of full or partial nudity” without their consent — has a “special three-year statute of limitations.”
Court documents indicated that Greitens had allegedly transmitted the photo “in a manner that allowed access to that image via a computer.”
Governor #Greitens mug shot after he’s book on class d felony, indicted by #STL grand jury for ‘invasion of privacy’ during 2015 affair. His attorney: “baseless and unfounded”https://t.co/8owZibbeOX pic.twitter.com/vsyxFxcnQH
— Casey Nolen KSDK (@CaseyNolen) February 22, 2018
According to KSDK News, Greitens “was taken into custody in St. Louis and released on his own recognizance” a short while later.
The circuit attorney’s office later confirmed that the judge in the indictment had given Greitens permission to travel within the United States. According to KMOX reporter Michael Calhoun, the governor was scheduled for meeting at the Pentagon on Friday; it was not immediately clear whether Greitens would still attend that meeting.
We’re told by the circuit attorney’s office the governor was taken into custody in St. Louis and released on his own recognizance https://t.co/vuTxicNKk0
— Casey Nolen KSDK (@CaseyNolen) February 22, 2018
.@stlcao office says Gov. Greitens was booked and released at the Justice Center. The judge gave him permission to travel in the US. He’s scheduled to go to DC for a meeting at the Pentagon tomorrow. @kmoxnews
— Michael Calhoun (@michaelcalhoun) February 22, 2018
St. Louis CBS-affiliate KMOV first reported the allegations against Greitens in early January. The report highlighted shocking details from a woman — Greitens’ hairdresser — who claimed that, in March 2015, the married Missouri governor had asked her to meet him at his house where he initiated a consensual sexual encounter.
According to the woman, whose ex-husband spoke with KMOV, Greitens allegedly taped her hands to exercise rings and blindfolded her. She claimed that Greitens then stepped back and took a photo of her as she stood naked, without her permission. “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 everywhere,’” she said.
According to the ex-husband, the woman’s affair with Greitens continued for some time after that. The woman and her ex-husband eventually divorced in March 2016 over the affair.
Greitens’ attorney, James Bennett, issued a statement in January in which he dismissed the blackmail claims and insisted the KMOV report contained “multiple false allegations.”
“There was no blackmail and that claim is false. This personal matter has been addressed by the Governor and Mrs. Greitens privately years ago when it happened,” he said.
Greitens and his wife Sheena, an assistant political science professor and nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, later released a joint statement to the media:
A few years ago, before Eric was elected Governor, there was a time when he was unfaithful in our marriage. This was a deeply personal mistake. Eric took responsibility, and we dealt with this together honestly and privately. While we never would have wished for this pain in our marriage, or the pain that this has caused others, with God’s mercy, Sheena has forgiven and we have emerged stronger.
In a separate statement at the time, Sheena Greitens instructed the media “and those who wish to peddle gossip” to “stay away from me and my children.”
On Thursday, an attorney for the Missouri governor sent an email to KMOV in which he reiterated Bennett’s earlier statement and dismissed the blackmail claims once more.
“In forty years of public and private practice, I have never seen anything like this,” attorney Edward Dowd, Jr. wrote. “The charges against my client are baseless and unfounded. My client is absolutely innocent. We will be filing a motion to dismiss.”
As KMOV notes, Invasion of Privacy in the 1st Degree is a Class D Felony in Missouri. At least one Missouri state senator, Rob Schaaf, has already demanded the governor resign his post.
GOP MO Sen @robschaaf tells me re: Greitens:
“If he doesn’t resign the House…should move swiftly to bring this to a resolution”
— Jonathan Martin (@jmartNYT) February 22, 2018
“If he doesn’t resign, the state House…should move swiftly to bring this to a resolution,” Schaaf told The New York Times’ Jonathan Martin on Thursday evening.
In a statement, Eric Greitens said his confidence in the prosecutorial system had been “shaken” following the “misguided political” decision. “The people of Missouri deserve better than a reckless liberal prosecutor who uses her office to score political points,” Greitens said. “I look forward to the legal remedies to reverse this action.”
This piece has been updated with Eric Greitens’ statment