Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens was indicted and taken into custody Thursday for felony invasion of privacy, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner’s office announced. Greitens’ lawyer called the charges, calling them “baseless and unfounded.” Gardner said a grand jury found probable cause to believe Greitens violated a Missouri statute that makes it a felony if a person transmits the image contained in the photograph or film in a manner that allows access to that image via a computer, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. The indictment apparently stems from allegations made in media reports last month that, during the course of an extramarital affair, he took a photograph of his bound and partially nude lover and threatened to publicize it if she exposed the affair.
Greitens has admitted the affair but has denied the alleged threat. The charges claim for the first time that Greitens actually transmitted imagery in connection with the allegations. “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. On Jan. 10, media reported that Greitens, a first-term Republican elected in 2016, had an extramarital affair near the start of his campaign in 2015. Greitens’ lover said in a recording made by her husband that, during a consensual sexual encounter in Greitens’ St. Louis home in which she was bound and partly undressed, Greitens took a photo of her without her consent and threatened her with it. Invasion of privacy is a felony in Missouri if the person taking the nonconsensual picture “distributes the image to another … or permits the dissemination by any means, to another person, of a videotape, photograph, or film.” The woman had been Greitens’ hair stylist.