Jefferson City, Mo. — When Eric Greitens sought Missouri’s highest office in 2016, his resume seemed hard to top: former Navy SEAL, former Rhodes scholar and founder of a veterans’ charity. Most important, he said during the campaign, was his role as “a proud husband and father.”
On Thursday, the square-jawed 43-year-old was fighting allegations that he photographed his hairdresser naked while having an affair with her and threatened to publicize the image if she spoke about their relationship. The top prosecutor in St. Louis quickly launched an investigation. A bipartisan group of state lawmakers asked the attorney general to investigate as well.
Greitens acknowledged being “unfaithful” in his marriage before he was elected governor but denied taking any naked photos and blackmailing the woman to stay quiet.
The governor and his wife released a statement late Wednesday after St. Louis television station KMOV aired a bombshell report that he had a sexual relationship with the hairdresser in 2015. The report included allegations from the woman’s ex-husband, who secretly recorded a conversation with his ex-wife discussing the affair.
The affair was “a deeply personal mistake,” the Greitens’ statement said. “Eric took responsibility, and we dealt with this together honestly and privately.”
Through his attorney, the governor also denied an allegation from the ex-husband that Greitens slapped the woman, saying any accusation of violence is “completely false.”
The woman involved did not comment on the record to the TV station, which did not name her. But her ex-husband, who also was not named, provided the audio recording to KMOV. On the recording, the woman gave details about a sexual encounter she says she had with Greitens in March 2015 at his St. Louis home. The woman did not know her then-husband was recording their conversation.
The alleged encounter came after Greitens created a committee to explore a bid for governor but before he officially announced his candidacy. She said on the tape that he invited her downstairs at his home because he wanted to show her “how to do a proper pull-up.”
She said: “I knew he was being sexual, and I still let him. And he used some sort of tape, I don’t know what it was, and taped my hands to these rings and then put a blindfold on me.”
She said she later realized he took a photo of her.
“I saw a flash through the blindfold and he said, ‘You’re never going to mention my name.’”
The woman did not return a call left by The Associated Press.
A bipartisan group of state senators signed a letter asking the attorney general to investigate. Attorney General Josh Hawley’s office said it would defer to local prosecutors, as required by state law.
The letter signed by both Democrats and Republicans called the allegations “deeply disturbing” and said a swift investigation was necessary to avoid having the matter “overpower” the 2018 legislative session.
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