Eric Greitens, the Republican Governor of Missouri and former Navy SEAL, was indicted Thursday afternoon “on one felony count of invasion of privacy,” KMOV reported.
According to KMOV:
The charge says Greitens knowingly took a photograph of a woman in a “state of full or partial nudity without the knowledge and consent” of that woman. The charge goes on to say the photograph was taken “in a place where a person would have a reasonable expectation of privacy, and the defendant subsequently transmitted the image contained in the photograph in a manner that allowed access to that image via a computer.”
Invasion of Privacy in the 1st Degree is a Class D Felony in Missouri.
“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,” Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner said in a statement. “This statute has a provision for both a felony and misdemeanor. The law makes it a felony if a person transmits the image contained in the photograph or film in a manner that allows access to that image via a computer.”
A judge said Greitens could be released on his own personal recognizance and is allowed to travel, according to Susan Ryan, a spokeswoman for the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office.
Last month, Greitens admitted that he had engaged in an extramarital affair prior to his election as governor in November 2016. On January 10, Greitens and his wife issued the following statement:
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. 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.”
Late Thursday, Greitens issued the following statement:
As I have said before, I made a personal mistake before I was Governor. I did not commit a crime.
With today’s disappointing and misguided political decision, my confidence in our prosecutorial system is shaken, but not broken. I know this will be righted soon.
The people of Missouri deserve better than a reckless liberal prosecutor who uses her office to score political points.
I look forward to the legal remedies to reverse this action.
This will not for a moment deter me from doing the important work of the great people of Missouri.
Also on Thursday, Greitens’ attorney said the indictment was without merit and politically motivated.
“In forty years of public and private practice, I have never seen anything like this,” Greitens’ attorney Edward L. Dowd Jr. told the Kansas City Star.
“The charges against my client are baseless and unfounded. My client is absolutely innocent. We will be filing a motion to dismiss,” Dowd added.
“Greitens was arrested and arraigned Thursday in St. Louis. He was later released on his own recognizance,” the Star reported, adding:
The allegations against Greitens surfaced shortly after he delivered his annual State of the State address last month. The ex-husband of the woman with whom Greitens had an affair gave St. Louis TV station KMOV an audio recording of her confessing the affair and accusing Greitens of threatening to blackmail her.
In an editorial published on Thursday evening, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch called on Greitens to resign, arguing the governor “cannot defend himself in court while running the state.”
The editorial continued:
During 13 months in office, Republican Gov. Eric Greitens has blazed a trail of abuse, flaunting of the state’s Sunshine Law, heavily relying on dark-money campaign accounts to attack opponents, and flippantly dismissing anyone who called for his public accountability.
This is not the person Missourians thought they were voting for in 2016. Missourians have every right to demand a full-time governor who is here to serve our state’s best interests. Greitens cannot effectively represent Missouri as governor while defending himself against the serious charges that caused him to be led away by sheriff’s deputies Thursday. He should resign.
Missouri House Speaker Todd Richardson, a Republican, Speaker Pro Tem Elijah Haahr, and Floor Leader Rob Vescovo, also Republicans, issued a joint statement late Thursday after news of the Greitens’ indictment broke, as KSDK reported:
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. The people of Missouri deserve no less. We will begin the process of tasking a group of legislators to investigate these serious charges.
According to ABC 17, House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty, a Democrat, said, “It will be extremely difficult for the governor to effectively do his job with a felony indictment hanging over his head. While the criminal justice system must run its course, the governor needs to consider whether remaining in office under these circumstances is the right thing to do for not only himself and his family but for the people of Missouri.”
Early media reports about the story included the allegation that Greitens had taken the photograph while his paramour was blindfolded and partially nude to blackmail the woman so that she would not expose the affair. Greitens has denied that accusation.