A St. Louis judge is expected to rule on Thursday on a request by Missouri Governor Eric Greitens’ lawyers to dismiss a criminal invasion of privacy case brought against the politician in connection with an admitted extramarital affair.
The Republican governor’s legal team last week accused St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, a Democrat, of prosecutorial misconduct, saying she tried to conceal video evidence supporting the governor and his assertions that the affair was entirely consensual.
The videotape in question is of a nine-hour deposition interview of the woman at the center of the scandal, a hair stylist identified in court documents only as “K.S.,” conducted by Gardner and her investigator in January.
Greitens’ lawyers say prosecutors deliberately withheld the tape from the defense until just after a special Missouri state legislative panel issued a report last week detailing the woman’s sworn allegations of physical abuse, blackmail and sexual coercion by Greitens.
Prosecutors have insisted that technical glitches with the video kept them from furnishing the recording sooner. Gardner also argued that the defense’s bid for dismissal and its accusations of misconduct against her were unwarranted “diversionary tactics” with no bearing on the case.
Greitens was indicted in February on a single felony count of invasion of privacy, charging he took a photo of the alleged victim in a state of undress without her consent and then made it accessible by computer to use as retaliation should she divulge their relationship.
The alleged offense occurred in March 2015, the year before Greitens, a married father of two and a former U.S. Navy SEAL commando, was elected governor. If convicted, he would face up to four years in prison.
Greitens has admitted to a months-long affair with the woman. But he has denied blackmailing her or other criminal wrongdoing. Instead, he has cast himself as the victim of a “political witch-hunt” for private transgressions that have nothing to do with his job as governor.
His lawyers have noted neither prosecutors nor anyone else has produced the photograph in question. The woman testified to the state House of Representatives committee that she believes it was taken while she was bound and blindfolded, and partially nude, in Greitens’ basement.
As pressure has mounted from Missouri politicians in both parties for him to resign, Greitens has declared he will remain in office while he fights in court to clear his name.
That pressure grew more intense on Tuesday after Missouri’s attorney general said his office uncovered evidence of electronic theft by Greitens in an unrelated investigation - an allegation the governor dismissed as “ridiculous.” That case also has been referred to the St. Louis prosecutor.
Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Dan Grebler