Missouri GOP Gov. Eric Greitens was indicted on Thursday, amid looming allegations of sexual misconduct and blackmail following an admission of an affair last month.
He was charged in St. Louis for a first-degree felony invasion of privacy, according the Missouri court system.
Missouri’s KMOV published a report last month where a man said his now-former wife had an affair with Greitens in 2015. The report included details of a recording of a woman saying Greitens had tried to blackmail her to keep quiet about their sexual encounter.
Greitens denied he resorted to blackmail, but admitted to an affair, and the circuit attorney for St. Louis, Kimberly M. Gardner, said they had launched a formal investigation.
Greitens’ attorney, Edward Dowd, Jr., said in an email to KMOV: “In forty years of public and private practice, I have never seen anything like this. The charges against my client are baseless and unfounded. My client is absolutely innocent. We will be filing a motion to dismiss.”
In a statement, Gardner said the alleged incident took place in March 2015 and vowed to “hold public officials accountable in the same manner as any other resident.”
The indictment alleges Greitens took a picture of a person in “full or partial nudity” without the person’s knowledge or consent, and that Greitens then transmitted the image “in a manner that allowed access to that image via a computer.”
Gardner’s statement said the transmission of the image in such a manner is a felony under the privacy statute Greitens is accused of violating.
Greitens’ press secretary, Parker Briden, did not answer calls for comment, and Greitens’ office said in a statement Thursday that he planned to attend the 2018 meeting of the National Governors Association this weekend, including a briefing at the Pentagon.
Vice President Mike Pence is scheduled to host a luncheon for the Council of Governors meeting Friday.
Al Watkins, the lawyer representing the ex-husband, said his client hopes to “put things in the rearview mirror” and move on.
“Lady justice can sometimes operate in cumbersome ways,” Watkins said. “But right now we have an individual charged with a felony, and in our great land, one must presume innocence until guilt has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt. It’s best to let the system take its course.”
Watkins said last month that he had turned in hours of compromising audio on Greitens to law enforcement, and two officials told CNN that the FBI had recently opened an inquiry into the Missouri governor.