Chicago (AFP) – A woman who had an extramarital affair with the governor of the US state of Missouri claimed he “coerced,” threatened, and struck her, according to an explosive report released Wednesday.
The report was the result of an investigation by a bipartisan committee of the state’s legislature, set up to probe allegations that Republican Governor Eric Greitens had blackmailed his former mistress with a photograph of her in a state of undress.
Greitens has been criminally charged with invasion of privacy and scheduled to stand trial in May.
The committee report — which detailed allegations of behavior that was at times abusive and coercive — could be a precursor to impeachment and was separate from the criminal case.
Shortly before the report’s release, the governor shot back that the committee’s findings were “full of more false, outlandish and salacious accusations.”
“Over three years ago, I made a personal mistake,” the governor said at a news conference. “But people are turning that personal mistake into a political spectacle and telling new lies about it.”
– ‘Coerced’ –
The report — filled with graphic details and strong language — relied heavily on the testimony of the woman with whom Greitens had the affair.
She has not been publicly identified, except as his former hairdresser.
The woman testified she had multiple sexual encounters with Greitens over several months in 2015. Some of the governor’s sexual conduct — such as groping her during one haircut appointment — was not consensual, she claimed.
The governor was sometimes physically aggressive to the point of once striking her in the face and, during another occasion, shoving her to the ground, according to her testimony.
She also repeated her claim that Greitens took a photo of her without permission while she was bound and nude in the basement of his home during the initial encounter of their affair.
According to her testimony, he told her: “You’re not going to mention my name… because if you do, I’m going to take these pictures, and I’m going to put them everywhere I can… and then everyone will know what a little whore you are.”
The woman claimed Greitens then began touching her sexually and she performed oral sex on the governor, explaining to the committee that she felt “coerced, maybe. I felt as though that would allow me to leave.”
The woman claimed Greitens later regretted the threat, told her he had erased the photo, and she entered into a consensual affair following his contrition.
Greitens has repeatedly denied blackmailing and insisted the affair was consensual.
“This is a political witch hunt,” he claimed Wednesday.
– ‘Beyond disturbing’ –
There were bipartisan calls in the report’s aftermath for the governor to resign or be impeached.
The speaker of the state house, also a Republican, said he would call a special session of the legislature to consider disciplinary action, including impeachment.
“This is not a witch hunt and the committee had no political agenda,” Speaker Todd Richardson said. “The testimony outlined in the report is beyond disturbing.”
Claire McCaskill, a Democratic US senator representing Missouri, called on Greitens to resign, as did the state’s top law enforcement officer, Attorney General Josh Hawley.