Feb. 23 (UPI) — Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens was indicted by a grand jury on a felony charge of invasion of privacy Thursday.
The indictment filed by St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly M. Gardner accuses Greitens of transmitting a nude image of a woman he had an affair with in 2015, which he took without her consent.
Greitens allegedly threatened to blackmail the woman by releasing the image of her, taken while she was blindfolded with her hands bound, according to a conversation recorded by her ex-husband also without her consent.
Gardner said the grand jury found probable cause to believe Greitens violated a Missouri statute which categorizes the transmitting of an image in a manner that allows access to that image via a computer as a Class E felony, punishable by up to four years in prison.
“As I have stated before, it is essential for residents of the City of St. Louis and our state to have confidence in their leader,” 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.”
Greitens issued a written statement on Facebook denying the allegations and saying the charges were politically motivated.
“As I have said before, I made a personal mistake before I was governor. I did not commit a crime,” he wrote. “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.”
His attorney, Edward L. Dowd Jr., also said Greitens didn’t commit a crime.
“In forty years of public and private practice, I have never seen anything like this,” he said. “The charges against my client are baseless and unfounded. My client is absolutely innocent. We will be filing a motion to dismiss.”
Missouri House Speaker Todd Richardson said state lawmakers also will conduct their own investigation.
“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,” Richardson said. “The people of Missouri deserve no less. We will begin the process of tasking a group of legislators to investigate these serious charges.”