Greitens indicted by grand jury, taken into custody; Greitens’ lawyers will appeal

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Missouri Governor Eric Greitens has been indicted by a City of St. Louis Grand Jury.

The news was announced by the City of St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner on Thursday afternoon.

According to a news release, the Republican governor was indicted on a first-degree felony invasion of privacy charge for an incident that took place on March 21, 2015, in the City of St. Louis.

Gov. Eric Greitens has been taken into custody. Here is the booking photo from the St. Louis Justice Center.

That charge is assumed to be related to the affair the Governor admitted to having in 2015, in which he allegedly took a picture of a bound and partially nude woman with whom he was having an affair with at the time and threatened to blackmail her if she made the affair public.

“Under Missouri law, the Grand Jury has found probable cause to believe that Governor Greitens violated Missouri Statute 565.252, which was in place at the time of the violation. The statute has a special three-year statute of limitations per 565.255.”

The law makes it a felony if a person transmits an image or video in such a way that allows access to that image or video 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.”

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Greitens was taken into custody Thursday by St. Louis City deputies, and officials confirmed that he was booked at the St. Louis Justice Center.

“In forty years of public and private practice, I have never seen anything like this,” Edward L. Dowd, Jr. said. His firm is representing Greitens in the matter. “The charges against my client are baseless and unfounded. My client is absolutely innocent. We will be filing a motion to dismiss.”

After 6 p.m. on Thursday, the Governor released the following statement:

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

Following the indictment, the Democratic Governors Association’s Executive Director Elisabeth Pearson issued the following statement, calling on the Republican Governors Association to remove Greitens from its executive council.

“The charges against Eric Greitens are deeply disturbing and prove he is unfit to hold public office. Following today’s indictment, Governor Greitens should step down immediately. The people of Missouri deserve a governor who can focus full-time on the issues affecting the state,” she said in the statement. “The Republican Governors Association should send a clear message that it does not condone Governor Greitens’ illegal actions. The RGA should immediately remove Governor Greitens from its executive council.”

The allegations against the Republican governor first became public on the night of his second State of the State address, in a special report by St. Louis’ CBS affiliate KMOV.

The ex-husband of the hairdresser that Greitens had an extramarital affair with delivered an audio recording of the woman confessing the affair and accusing Greitens of threatening to blackmail her.

Since then, the woman has repeatedly avoided any attempts from the media to comment on the matter or participate in any interviews, with her lawyer saying that the audio was recorded without her knowledge and released by her now-ex-husband without her giving consent.

Following the allegations being made public, Gardner announced that her office would be investigating the claims. The extent of that investigation became abundantly clear when investigators appeared at the State Capitol in mid-February.

To represent him in the circuit attorney’s inquiries, Greitens hired St. Louis law firm Dowd Bennett, and in the last week, a statehouse lobbyist was hired to assist.

Greitens has weathered several calls for his resignation since the news of his affair broke but has denied any rumors that he would step down.

With news of the indictment, many are wondering if the House will seek to investigate the allegations themselves and begin impeachment proceedings, though no indications have been given by House leadership at this time.

It’s worth noting that in Missouri, indicted governors may continue to serve. If the House does in fact vote to impeach, then statute says they are suspended from office until acquittal. 

As of 5:15 p.m. on Thursday, Missouri Case.net shows that the Governor’s bond was set, with Greitens providing a written statement and being allowed to freely travel anywhere in the United States. He is scheduled to return to the Carnahan Courthouse on March 16 at 9 a.m.

This story originally appeared on The Missouri Times.

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