- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 22, 2018

The governor of Missouri was indicted Thursday on a felony charge that accuses him of taking a nude photo of a woman without her consent, a move that Gov. Eric Greitens called a “misguided political decision” and his lawyer denounced as virtually without precedent.

Mr. Greitens was charged with invasion of privacy by a City of St. Louis grand jury Thursday, causing Democratic lawmakers to demand that Mr. Greitens resign or face impeachment and prompting Republican lawmakers to launch their own probe.

Circuit Attorney Kimberly M. Gardner said in a brief statement that the incident took place March 21, 2015, almost 20 months before Mr. Greitens, who is married with two children, was elected. 

According to the indictment, the image involved a “state of full or partial nudity without the knowledge and consent … in a place where a person would have a reasonable expectation of privacy.”

Ms. Gardner said the photo became a first-degree invasion of privacy and a felony because the suspect “transmitted the image contained in the photograph in a manner that allows access to that image via a computer.” Missouri punishes first-degree invasion of privacy with up to four years in prison.

In a joint statement, House Speaker Todd Richardson, Speaker Pro Tem Elijah Haahr and Majority Leader Rob Vescovo (all Republicans) said a group of lawmakers would investigate the charges “and answer the question as to whether or not the governor can lead our state while a felony case moves forward.”

Later Thursday evening, Mr. Greitens’ attorney said his team would “welcome reviewing this issue with the independent, bipartisan committee of the Missouri House of Representatives.”

But Edward L. Dowd Jr., in addition to proclaiming his client’s innocence, also denounced the district attorney’s charges in his statement as groundless and “unusual.”

“For 40 years as an attorney for the public and for private litigants, I have never seen anything like this. The charges are unfounded and baseless,” he said. “This statute has never been used like this in Missouri history. In unprecedented fashion, the Circuit Attorney circumvented the local police force and hired her own investigators.”

The governor’s lawyers filed a motion to dismiss the charges Thursday evening, claiming that the relationship, and any photos, were consensual.

The governor’s spokeswoman told reporters that her boss had been arrested and then released on his own recognizance.

His first court appearance has been scheduled for March 16.

Some Democrats in Jefferson City want him gone before then. State Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, St. Louis Democrat, said the impeachment process must begin now.

Gov. Greitens has to go,” she said. “Missourians thought they voted for a person of character and integrity, and instead they got a liar and alleged criminal.”

House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty was more diplomatic, but said it will be “extremely difficult for the governor to effectively do his job with a felony indictment hanging over his head. While the criminal justice system must run its course, the governor needs to consider whether remaining in office under these circumstances is the right thing to do for not only himself and his family but for the people of Missouri.”

In his Thursday statement though, Mr. Greitens dug in his heels politically.

“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,” he said.

The woman, whom local news media have not named and is identified in court documents only by her initials, said in a taped conversation with her husband that the governor had taken a photo of her that he would use as blackmail if she did not keep the affair discreet.

Mr. Greitens acknowledged last month having had an affair with a hairdresser, but has denied blackmailing her.

“As I have said before, I made a personal mistake before I was governor. I did not commit a crime,” Mr. Greitens said.

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