Governor indicted on felony charge by St. Louis grand jury

Gov.+Eric+Greitens%2C+left%2C+talks+to+south+county+resident+and+former+Rep.+Earlene+Judd+in+St.+Louis+County+the+day+before+he+was+inaugurated+earlier+this+year.+Photo+by+Gloria+Lloyd.

Gov. Eric Greitens, left, talks to south county resident and former Rep. Earlene Judd in St. Louis County the day before he was inaugurated earlier this year. Photo by Gloria Lloyd.

Gov. Eric Greitens was indicted Thursday on a felony invasion of privacy charge by a grand jury in St. Louis city.

Relying on testimony from three witnesses, including the alleged victim, a standing grand jury in the city indicted Greitens on a felony rather than a misdemeanor for allegedly taking a photo against the will of the woman he had an affair with in 2015. After the woman’s ex-husband alleged that he tried to blackmail her with the photo, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner launched an investigation.

The governor admitted just hours after the State of the State address in January to a 2015 affair with his hairstylist before he officially announced his run for governor.

The woman’s now ex-husband, whose identity was also kept anonymous by media outlets, secretly recorded her saying that Greitens tied her up on March 21, 2015 in his Central West End basement, blindfolded her and took a picture, allegedly threatening to release the photo if she ever said anything about their affair.

The woman testified to the grand jury along with two other witnesses, according to the indictment.

The indictment alleges that Greitens “knowingly photographed (the woman) in a state of full or partial nudity without (her) knowledge and consent … and 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 computer.”

Greitens’ attorney Edward L. Dowd Jr. issued a short statement in response to the indictment.

In 40 years of public and private practice, I have never seen anything like this,” Dowd said. “The charges against my client are baseless and unfounded. My client is absolutely innocent. We will be filing a motion to dismiss.”

Greitens later issued another statement noting that he had previously acknowledged a “personal mistake before I was governor. I did not commit a crime.”

Gardner’s decision to file charges is a “disappointing and misguided political decision,” Greitens continued.

“… My confidence in our prosecutorial system is shaken, but not broken,” Greitens said. “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.”

The timing of the indictment comes in just under the state privacy law’s three-year statute of limitations, Gardner said in a news release.

The law states that the crime is a felony rather than a misdemeanor if a person transmits the image to a computer, she added.

“As I have stated before, it is essential for residents of the city of St. Louis and our state to have confidence in their leaders,” Gardner said. “They must know that the office of the circuit attorney will hold public officials accountable in the same manner as any other resident of our city. Both parties and the people of St. Louis deserve a thorough investigation of these allegations.”

Gardner added, “While I have committed to being as transparent as possible in this matter, we are limited in what we can discuss because it’s an ongoing investigation.”

The Republican Governors’ Association announced that Greitens would not be attending its winter meeting in Washington, D.C., this weekend and that Greitens had chosen to no longer serve on the RGA’s Executive Committee so that he could focus on Missouri and fighting “what his team has called a baseless charge,” the organization said in a statement.

“We look forward to a quick resolution of this issue,” the RGA said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Gov. Greitens and his family.”

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.