2018-05-15 06:41:28 UTC
ST. LOUIS -- Prosecutors have dropped an invasion-of-privacy charge
against Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, but said they will still pursue a
case against him for allegedly taking a revealing picture of a woman with
whom he has confirmed having an affair. Assistant St. Louis Circuit
Attorney Ronald Sullivan made the surprise announcement Monday in court
after the third day of jury selection in Greitens' trial.
Ex-aide to Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens says he was duped into being
Greitens reacted not long after the decision saying it was "a great
victory that has been a longtime coming." He made a brief statement
outside the courthouse Monday denouncing the "false charges" and
apologizing "for the pain" that his actions caused.
"This experience has also been humbling, and I've emerged from it a
changed man," he added. "I believe that in all of our lives, we have to
deal with pain, and that if we deal with it in the right way, we can learn
Sullivan cited the fact that Greitens' defense attorneys planned to call
the St. Louis circuit attorney, Kim Gardner, as a witness and whose
handling of the case has been under constant criticism by Greitens
Greitens' defense team has particularly focused on the prosecutor's hiring
of a private investigator, William Tisaby, whom Greitens' lawyers have
accused of perjury.
"The court's order places the Circuit Attorney in the impossible position
of being a witness, subject to cross-examination," including by her own
subordinates, Gardner spokeswoman Susan Ryan said in a statement.
It "leaves the Circuit Attorney no adequate means of proceeding with this
trial," Ryan said. "Therefore, the court has left the Circuit Attorney
with no other legal option than to dismiss and refile this matter."
She said a decision will be made later to either seek a special prosecutor
or appoint one of Gardner's assistants to proceed.
Greitens, a 44-year-old first-term Republican governor, was charged with
felony invasion of privacy for allegedly taking and transmitting a photo
of an at least partially nude woman without her permission in 2015. If
convicted, Greitens could have faced up to four years in prison. He's
denied criminal wrongdoing, but has declined to directly answer questions
about whether he took the photo.
He has rejected calls to resign from both Republicans and Democrats since
he first admitted in January that he had an affair before he was elected
governor in 2016.
Republican state Sen. Rob Schaaf, a vocal Greitens critic, wrote a letter
in April to President Trump asking the commander in chief to request that
Greitens, a former military officer, step down.
The woman's name never has been officially released; it is redacted from
the legislative documents and she is identified only by her initials K.S.
in court filings. She has testified that Greitens bound her hands to
exercise equipment in March 2015 in the basement of his St. Louis home,
blindfolded her and removed her clothes before she saw a flash and heard
what sounded like the click of a cellphone camera. She has said Greitens
threatened to disseminate the photo if she spoke of their encounter but
later told her he had deleted it.
Greitens repeatedly has told reporters that the allegations against him
were a "political witch hunt" -- a phrase similar to what Mr. Trump has
used to discredit investigations into whether he had any role in Russia's
interference in the 2016 elections.
Greitens' indictment in February prompted the Missouri House to launch its
own investigation. It released a report in April containing more testimony
from the woman that Greitens had restrained, slapped, shoved, threatened
and belittled her during a series of sexual encounters that at times left
her crying and afraid. The committee released a second report May 2 with
testimony about how Greitens' gubernatorial campaign had used a donor list
from The Mission Continues without the permission of the St. Louis-based
veterans' charity he founded. Greitens also faces a felony charge in St.
Louis for disclosing the donor list to his political fundraiser, though no
trial date has been set.