Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens was indicted Thursday afternoon by a St. Louis grand jury on a felony charge of invasion of privacy.
The charges stem from a 2015 affair and allegations that he threatened to release a nude photograph of the woman, taken while she was blindfolded and her hands were bound, if she ever spoke publicly about the affair.
St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner launched a criminal investigation of the allegations last month shortly after they become public. The indictment accuses Greitens of not only knowingly photographing the women with whom he had an affair, but also transmitting the image “in a manner that allowed access to that image via a computer.”
“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 in a statement. “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 could not be immediately reached for comment.
The allegations against Greitens surfaced shortly after he delivered his annual State of the State address last month. The ex-husband of the woman with whom Greitens had an affair gave St. Louis TV station KMOV an audio recording of her confessing the affair and accusing Greitens of threatening to blackmail her.
The woman involved in the matter has not made a comment and has repeatedly declined to participate in any news articles. The confession was recorded without her knowledge by her ex-husband and released to the media without her consent.
Greitens hired the St. Louis law firm Dowd Bennett to represent him in the circuit attorney’s criminal inquiry. In the last week, a former St. Louis circuit judge was added to his legal team, and Dowd Bennett hired a statehouse lobbyist who is employed by longtime GOP consultant Jeff Roe’s firm.
Last week, two investigators from the circuit attorney’s office were dispatched to the Capitol to interview lawmakers. Before they left town they had talked to roughly two dozen legislators, including House Speaker Todd Richardson, a Poplar Bluff Republican, and Senate Majority Leader Mike Kehoe, a Jefferson City Republican.
The investigators, both of whom have FBI experience, were back in Jefferson City this week interviewing more lawmakers.
According to lawmakers who were interviewed, the questions focused on the conversations and interactions legislators had with the governor about the affair and alleged blackmail before and after the story went public.
The allegations facing Greitens have hung over the Capitol for weeks.
A handful of Republican lawmakers quickly called on Greitens to resign. And earlier this week, while debating a bill that would outlaw “revenge porn,” Republicans overwhelming supported amending the bill to make it a felony to threaten someone with releasing a sexually explicit photo.
Greitens is a former Navy SEAL and the second youngest governor in the U.S. He was a Democrat until switching parties in 2015. He attended Duke on scholarship and then the University of Oxford as a Rhodes scholar, where he earned his doctorate before joining the Navy.
Greitens graduated from Duke in 1996. He studied ethics, philosophy and public policy at Duke.
While at Duke, he took up boxing, and later he won a gold medal in the 1998 British Universities Sports Association’s national championships, according to Duke. While at Oxford, he volunteered as a documentary photographer and researcher in the Gaza Strip, Albania, Cambodia, Mexico, Bolivia and India.
Abbie Bennett of the (Raleigh) News & Observer contributed to this report.