Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens (R) was indicted by a grand jury Thursday on a felony count of invasion of privacy in the first degree.
The governor is accused of taking a nude photograph of a woman without her consent in 2015, and threatening to release it if she publicized their affair.
Greitens has admitted to the affair but denied allegations of blackmail and vowed to remain in office.
A reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch witnessed the governor being led away in the custody of several St. Louis deputies at the courthouse on Thursday afternoon.
Neither the governor’s office nor Greitens’ private attorneys immediately responded to TPM’s requests for comment.
One of the attorneys, Edward Dowd, told the Post-Dispatch that the charges were “baseless and unfounded” and that he would be filing a motion to dismiss them.
Greitens is being released on a personal recognizance bond and will be permitted to travel, Susan Ryan, a spokeswoman for St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, confirmed to TPM. Greitens was slated to go to Washington, D.C. this weekend to attend the annual National Governors Association’s winter meeting.
In a statement, Gardner said that the jurors chose to charge Greitens with a felony rather than a misdemeanor because he transmitted the image “in a manner that allows access to that image 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. “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.”
The allegations against the governor first surfaced in mid-January when the ex-husband of the woman he engaged in an affair with spoke to several local news sites. The ex-husband also made public tape recordings he had made in 2015 in which his then-wife provided detailed descriptions of her sexual encounters with the governor. In one, she recalled being blindfolded and tapd to a piece of exercise equipment in Greitens’ basement before he partly undressed her and took a photograph of her without asking permission.
“My client’s agenda has always been to protect the interests of his kids,” Al Watkins, a lawyer for the ex-husband, told TPM. “And to the extent he’s done so he’s now in a position to step off the dance floor. The music may still be playing but it’s not a song to which he has any business dancing.”
Greitens’ indictment was met with renewed calls for his resignation from opponents.
Democratic Governors Association Executive Director Elisabeth Pearson said in a statement that Greitens should “step down immediately” over the “deeply disturbing” charges.
State Sen. Rob Schaaf, a Republican who is one of Greitens’ most vocal critics in the Missouri legislature, fired off a simple two-word message: “he’s done.”
…he's done. #moleg
— Rob Schaaf (@robschaaf) February 22, 2018
Read the full indictment below: