Missouri governor allegedly took nude photo of woman, threatened to release it if she exposed affair

Eric Greitens admitted to the affair this week, but denied threatening to release the woman's nude photos.

Missouri Governor Eric Greitens (R) addresses the crowd at Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery on February 22, 2017 in University City, Missouri. (CREDIT: Michael Thomas/ Getty Images)
Missouri Governor Eric Greitens (R) addresses the crowd at Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery on February 22, 2017 in University City, Missouri. (CREDIT: Michael Thomas/ Getty Images)

A report by News 4 KMOV this week detailed shocking allegations against Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens (R), who is accused by one woman of threatening to release her nude photos if she ever went public with their affair.

According to the Saint Louis CBS affiliate, the affair first began in March 2015, before Greitens became governor. The woman, Greitens’ hairstylist, admitted to her ex-husband that she “instantly had a big crush on [Greitens]” and that she had initially asked him to meet for coffee, a request which Greitens denied.

“‘I can’t, I can’t be seen with you. This is wrong,'” the woman quoted Greitens as saying, in a conversation with her ex-husband, which he recorded without her knowledge. “I said, I know. So he said, ‘Just, please come to my house.'”

The woman said she complied and that when she arrived, Greitens asked her to follow him downstairs, where he initiated a consensual sexual encounter, allegedly taping her hands to exercise rings and blindfolding her. The woman claimed that, at that point, Greitens stepped back and took a photo of her as she stood naked.

“He stepped back, I saw a flash through the blindfold and he said, ‘You’re never going to mention my name, otherwise there will be pictures of me everywhere.'”

The woman’s ex-husband, speaking with News 4, claimed that the confession had made him “sick.”

“He took a picture of my wife naked as blackmail,” he said. “There is no worse person. I think it’s as bad as it gets, It’s as bad as it gets when someone takes advantage of something.”

According to the ex-husband, the affair continued for some time after the woman’s confession, and he and his then-wife eventually sought a divorce in March 2016. On Election Day that November, the husband tweeted criticism of the then-gubernatorial candidate, claiming that Greitens was a “homewrecker.”

“This didn’t just destroy our marriage, it destroyed an environment, an ecosystem, this destroyed it all,” he tweeted.

After the News 4 report first went public, Greitens’ attorney, James Bennett, issued a statement in which he dismissed the claims as old news and stated that the story contained “multiple false allegations.”

“There was no blackmail and that claim is false. This personal matter has been addressed by the Governor and Mrs. Greitens privately years ago when it happened. The outrageous claims of improper conduct regarding these almost three-year-ago events are false.”

On Wednesday, Greitens and his wife Sheena, an assistant political science professor and nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, addressed the controversy themselves — admitting that the affair happened, but declining to address the blackmail allegations.

“A few years ago, before Eric was elected Governor, there was a time when he was unfaithful in our marriage. This was a deeply personal mistake. Eric took responsibility, and we dealt with this together honestly and privately,” they wrote in a statement shared on their individual Twitter accounts. “While we never would have wished for this pain in our marriage, or the pain that this has caused others, with God’s mercy, Sheena has forgiven and we have emerged stronger.”

The couple stated that, while some people may not be able to forgive the affair, they were grateful for anyone who could “find it in [their] heart” to accept the rushed apology.

In a separate statement, Sheena Greitens added that she wanted “the media and those who wish to peddle gossip to stay away from me and my children.”

During the 2016 election, Greitens — a former Democrat who became a Republican shortly after stating his intent to run for governor — portrayed himself as a doting family man and Washington outsider. In one campaign ad, Greitens can be seen firing a Gatling-style machine gun while billing himself as a “conservative warrior.” In another, similar ad, Greitens shoots a military-style assault rifle while complaining about corrupt politicians. A separate video shows several of Greitens’ former military colleagues talking about his record as a leader; one of them refers to him as an “ethical person” who makes the right choices.

The revelation comes in the midst of the watershed #MeToo movement, begun by activist Tarana Burke, which has outed several powerful men accused of sexual predation or assault. So far, only a handful of politicians, including former Minnesota Sen. Al Franken (D), who resigned on January 2, have suffered consequences as a result of their actions.

The reaction to Greitens’ confession this week has so far been mixed, with some calling on the Republican governor to resign over the more egregious blackmail allegation and others stating their support in the wake of his apology.


UPDATE, 5:26 p.m. ET: Thursday evening, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner said she was launching a formal investigation into Greitens’ alleged actions.

“The serious allegations against Missouri Governor Eric Greitens are very troubling,” Gardner wrote in a statement. “…It is essential for residents of the City of St. Louis and our state to have confidence in their leaders. 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.”

Earlier Thursday afternoon, a bipartisan group of Missouri state senators called for an investigation into the blackmail allegations against Greitens, saying that Greitens should “resign or face impeachment” if the allegations were found to be true, the Kansas City Star reported.

Talking Points Memo also reported later that Greitens at one point allegedly slapped the unnamed woman with whom he’d had an affair, after she told him she’d had sex with her husband since their last encounter. Greitens has denied the claim.