The woman who has accused Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens of using a semi-naked picture to blackmail her will be allowed to testify at his felony trial next week, a St. Louis judge ruled Monday.
Greitens’ legal team had tried to block the woman’s testimony, alleging that it was tainted by the misconduct of the private investigator who first interviewed her on behalf of the prosecution. Investigator William Tisaby was accused of lying under oath and withholding evidence.
Circuit Judge Rex Burlison rejected those arguments, per the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He previously sanctioned prosecutors for failing to turn evidence over to the defense as soon as they should have.
The woman’s account is central to the prosecution’s case that Greitens blackmailed her by taking the photograph during a 2015 encounter at his St. Louis home, then threatening to release it if she revealed their affair.
Prosecutors do not have the photograph or witnesses who have seen it, the Dispatch reported.
Chief Trial Assistant Robert Dierker said that the case is built in part on circumstantial evidence, including the woman’s claims that she saw a flash and heard the sound of an iPhone camera clicking when the photo was taken, according to the Dispatch. Greitens also threatened to spread the picture “everywhere” and repeatedly assured the woman he deleted the photo, the prosecution claims.
The woman has already presented her account to a Missouri House committee which is investigating various allegations against the Republican first-term governor. In vivid testimony released by the committee, she recounted the governor coercing her into sexual acts and slapping her on multiple occasions.
Greitens, who was elected in 2016, has denied allegations of violence and blackmail, acknowledging only that he engaged in a relationship with the woman.
The governor has not yet decided if he himself will testify at the trial, which begins May 14. TPM will cover the trial from St. Louis.
“Universally, that decision is not made until the conclusion of the State’s case and after a thorough review of the State’s evidence at that time,” Greitens’ attorneys said in a Sunday statement. “And consistent with that, there has been no decision made at this time regarding whether the Governor will testify or not. We’re leaving all options on the table.”
Greitens faces a separate felony charge related to his alleged misuse of a charity donor list for political fundraising. And the Missouri legislature is convening a special session to consider initiating impeachment proceedings.