The Missouri special prosecutor appointed to take over the investigation of Eric Greitens announced Friday that she won’t file any further criminal charges against the disgraced Republican former governor.
The news mean that Greitens, who was previously charged both with blackmailing his then-mistress and with a separate campaign finance violation, is now legally in the clear.
Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said the she has “exhausted potential leads” but had not obtained sufficient evidence to pursue charges in connection with the blackmail allegations, the St. Louis Post Dispatch reported.
At a press conference on Friday afternoon, Baker said she was “frustrated” by the outcome. She said that though there was “probable cause” for sexual assault charges against the governor in the blackmail incident, a lack of corroborating evidence and the victim’s desire not to pursue the case further helped steer her decision.
“Probable cause is not proof beyond a reasonable doubt, and the victim in that case couldn’t bear it on her own,” Baker said.
Baker was assigned to take over the investigation last month after a case brought by St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner fell apart just days before Greitens’ trial was set to begin. Greitens was accused of taking a non-consensual nude photo of a woman with whom he carried out a 2015 affair, and threatening to release it if she went public. He admitted to the extramarital relationship, and the woman’s testimony was deemed credible by a special Missouri House committee probing the allegations.
But the alleged photo never materialized, and Gardner’s case fell into disarray after she was called as a witness in her own probe. Lawyers for Greitens wanted to ask her about an interview she oversaw in which one of her investigators allegedly perjured himself.
Baker said in her press conference that she was “hamstrung” throughout her investigation because she considered Gardner’s entire office potential witnesses in the case and therefore could not confer with them on issues of legal strategy.
Greitens’ team had argued that he was innocent of criminal wrongdoing and that prosecutors didn’t have enough evidence to charge him.
He resigned in disgrace last week. In doing so, Greitens signed a settlement agreement with Gardner’s office in which she agreed to drop separate charges that he illegally stole a donor list from the veterans charity he founded, a campaign finance violation.
The woman at the heart of the blackmail scandal on Friday released a statement through her attorney thanking “all who have supported her and believed her testimony.”
“As my client, and the citizens of this state, move past this difficult time in Missouri’s history we hope other women in similar situations are not discouraged by this process,” the statement from attorney Scott Simpson read. “It takes real courage to testify once, let alone six times, but that courage exposes the truth.”