The woman who had an affair with Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens in 2015 told her then-husband that Greitens slapped her against her will, after she told Greitens she had had sex with her husband.
A lawyer for Greitens strongly denies the claim.
A lawyer for the woman’s ex-husband, as well as Roy Temple, a Missouri Democratic operative, told TPM about the husband’s claims.
Temple told TPM that the woman’s husband had recounted the incident to Temple in September 2016, based on what his wife told him. Temple at that time was the chair of the Missouri Democratic party. Greitens, a Republican, was elected governor in November 2016.
The woman and her husband sought a divorce in March 2016. Temple said the husband told him the incident occurred in early July, 2015.
Al Watkins, a lawyer for the husband, confirmed to TPM in a Thursday phone interview that his client had discussed the slapping allegation in an interview with KMOV, CBS’ St. Louis affiliate. KMOV, which broke the news of the affair, has not broadcast that claim, as of Thursday afternoon.
“My client has asserted that that is what he has been told by his former spouse,” Watkins said. “My client has gone on the record with that statement and I have no reason to believe anything other than the absolute veracity of my client.”
Watkins declined to put TPM in contact with the man. “He is prioritizing his family and navigating a difficult time,” Watkins said.
Calls and texts to a phone number listed online for the woman were not returned. A woman who answered the phone at the salon where the woman works hung up the phone when a TPM reporter identified herself.
TPM is not naming the woman or the husband, out of concern for their family’s privacy.
“Greitens invited her to the Greitens family home and into a guest bedroom,” Temple wrote in an email to TPM, describing what he had been told by the husband. “Before engaging in sex, Greitens asked if she had had sex with anyone since their last encounter. According to the account he gave me, she replied that she had had sex with her husband, at which time Greitens slapped her.”
A lawyer for Greitens denied that he had slapped the woman.
“This allegation is completely false,” the lawyer, Jim Bennett, said in an email. “It never happened. There was never any violence. Anything reported otherwise is untrue and we will explore pursuing all legal action. This was a consensual relationship that lasted multiple months and was years ago before Eric was elected Governor.”
The claims lend a new layer of gravity to the still-unfolding scandal embroiling the governor. Late Wednesday, Greitens admitted in a statement that he had conducted the affair but denied allegations that he blackmailed the woman into silence by taking a nude photo of her while her arms were bound by tape to exercise equipment in his basement.
“All I can tell you as a simple-minded man from the heartland of America, whether it’s extortion or blackmail or neither, it’s fucking disgusting,” Watkins, the man’s attorney, said of the March 2015 photograph incident.
The woman recounted that episode and other details of her relationship with Greitens in a conversation with her then-husband days after it occurred. A recording of that conversation, made by the husband without her knowledge, was among the evidence provided to KMOV to support the husband’s version of events.
Watkins, the man’s attorney, said in a Thursday radio interview with St. Louis station KMOX that his client had previously declined to come forward out of concern for his family’s privacy. Watkins said he decided to do so after members of the media continued to contact him about the affair and even called one of his young children, leaving the minor in a “position of abject horror about what’s gone on.”
Missouri state senators from both parties have called for an investigation into the blackmail allegations. Several Democrats have called for Greitens to resign immediately. Greitens reportedly told allies Thursday that he plans to stay in office.
Though the affair only came to light this week, rumors have swirled about Greitens’ relationship with the woman since before he took office. Temple, the Democratic operative, told TPM he reached out to the man through a mutual close friend to obtain more information in early fall 2016. Over the course of a phone call and two in-person meetings at the man’s home in the first two weeks of September, the man provided Temple with details of the affair, and played him part of the recording describing the blackmail incident.
Temple told TPM that the husband had made “multiple recordings” of his conversations with his then-wife about Greitens because, as the husband put it, he “wasn’t sure that he was getting the full story.”
The recording describing the basement photograph episode is the only one that news outlets had made public by Thursday afternoon.
Asked if he believed more damaging revelations about Greitens had yet to surface, Watkins said he believed that was a “correct statement.”
Referring to Greitens’s admission of an affair, Watkins said: “It is always important when you’re bellying up to the bar, that you belly all the way up to the bar.”
Additional reporting by Tierney Sneed.
This post has been updated.