Former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens won’t face charges over sexual blackmail allegations
Two weeks ago, Eric Greitens was the governor of Missouri — and for him, that’s where the good news ended. He was also facing two separate felony criminal cases on charges of sexual misconduct and campaign-related malfeasance.
But now that Greitens, a Republican, has resigned from office, both cases have disappeared — a dramatic turn of events for Greitens, whose political career began with a victorious outsider campaign in 2016 only to crash to earth in recent months.
Greitens will not face criminal charges over allegations that he photographed a woman naked without her consent, a Kansas City-area prosecutor announced Friday.
Investigators did not have enough evidence to convict Greitens, and the statute of limitations for filing charges will expire this weekend, according to a statement from the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office.
It’s the second time in two weeks that prosecutors have decided not to pursue criminal charges against the Republican, who was also facing threats of impeachment from the Republican-led Legislature before he stepped down June 1.
A second case disappeared when Greitens agreed to resign from office in a plea deal with the St. Louis city circuit attorney, Kim Gardner.
In exchange, Gardner dropped a felony computer-tampering case over allegations that Greitens used a list of donors from his charity for veterans to solicit campaign contributions.
As part of that deal, Greitens, while not admitting wrongdoing, conceded that prosecutors had enough evidence to take him to trial, according to confidential settlement terms obtained by local media outlets.
Gardner had also previously pursued a felony invasion-of-privacy case against Greitens over allegations that he’d photographed and blackmailed a woman — by far the most explosive scandal to rock Greitens’ administration.
In January, news outlets revealed that Greitens had an affair with his St. Louis-area hairdresser in 2015 and that she had privately accused him of tying her up, stripping off her clothes, photographing her naked and then threatening to release the photo if she told anyone about the affair.
The woman later testified to lawmakers that Greitens had also coerced her into giving him oral sex.
Greitens admitted having the affair but denied the rest of the woman’s allegations, which only became public because the woman’s ex-husband, without her consent, had recorded a private conversation of her talking about Greitens.
The ex-husband later released the recording to the media against her will, and she declined to give interviews about Greitens.
The St. Louis City Circuit Attorney’s Office originally filed a felony invasion-of-privacy charge against Greitens over the allegation, but was later forced to drop the charge after Greitens’ attorneys accused an investigator of mishandling the investigation.
Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker was then appointed special prosecutor to review if charges should be re-filed, culminating in Friday’s decision not to pursue a trial.
Baker’s office said in a statement that investigators had “exhausted potential leads” and that “still missing was corroborating evidence for an invasion of privacy case.”
In a statement, the hairdresser’s attorney thanked prosecutors for their work on the case but criticized her treatment by journalists, her ex-husband and by Greitens’ legal team, which had questioned her account in a deposition and asked whether she was aroused.
“No woman should have to endure the trauma that comes from her ex-husband selling her private story for a six-figure payout,” said the statement from her lawyer, Scott Simpson, alluding to mysterious cash payments that were delivered to the ex-husband’s attorney before the story went public.
“No woman should have to turn on the television and watch as the most private and difficult moments of her life are broadcast despite pleading with the reporter for privacy,” the statement said, according to the Kansas City Star. “No woman should be forced to answer countless hours of highly personal questions that are in no way relevant to the issue of whether a nude photograph was taken without her consent.”
Representatives for Greitens did not respond to a request for comment.
Matt Pearce is a national reporter for The Times. Follow him on Twitter at @mattdpearce.
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