St. Louis prosecutors, a local grand jury, and a GOP-controlled Missouri House committee have all expressed confidence that Gov. Eric Greitens tied his former lover up in his basement and took a nude photo of her to ensure her silence about their affair.
But proving that this happened will not be so easy in a court of law.
The biggest obstacle for the prosecution is that no one has ever seen the photo Greitens allegedly took.
To convict Greitens for a felony invasion of privacy under Missouri State Statute 565.252, prosecutors will need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Greitens captured the photo on his smartphone with the intent to transmit it.
Because they don’t have an actual copy of the photo, the prosecution’s case rests on the circumstantial evidence in the woman’s account and on corroborating testimony from her ex-husband and friend. The woman will testify that she saw a flash through the blindfold Greitens tied across her eyes and heard the sound of an iPhone camera shutter click.
Because the image was stored on a smartphone, which is a form of computer, and was likely automatically uploaded to the cloud, prosecutors will argue, the situation satisfies the statute’s language about having “access to that image via computer.” As to the intent to “transmit” the photograph, they will point to Greitens’ verbal threat to the woman that the photo would be distributed “everywhere” if she ever mentioned his name and his subsequent promises to her that he deleted it.
Greitens’ team says the entire case is bogus because the prosecution can’t prove the photo ever existed. No witness, including the woman, has ever seen it. And Greitens says he never took it, and therefore could never have intended to share it with anyone.
We’ve spent months learning all the gory details of the governor’s alleged behavior. He is accused not only of blackmail but of slapping the woman on multiple occasions and forcing her to give him oral sex while she cried “like a wounded little animal on the ground.”
There is a good deal of proof that Greitens behaved appallingly. But the key piece of evidence that could convict him just isn’t there.