A St. Louis grand jury on Thursday indicted Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens on a felony invasion of privacy charge for allegedly taking a compromising photo of a woman with whom he had an affair in 2015. Greitens said he did not break the law and that the charge was a "misguided political decision" by a "reckless liberal prosecutor".
The charge sheet alleges Mr Greitens took a picture of the unidentified woman in "full or partial nudity" without her knowledge or consent.
"For the sake of our state, I am calling on Governor Greitens to put an end to this distraction and resign immediately", said Missouri Sen. In one of those conversations, the woman said Greitens took a compromising photo of her to use as blackmail if she spoke out about that relationship.
The woman's ex-husband provided an audio recording to KMOV of the woman confessing to the affair and claiming that Greitens threatened to blackmail her. (Greitens has denied he threatened to blackmail her.) Shortly after, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner launched an investigation into the allegations against the governor.
If convicted, Greitens, 43, faces up to four years in prison and/or a $5,000 fine, Ryan said, adding that a judge had ordered Greitens to be released on his own recognizance.
"In forty years of public and private practice, I have never seen anything like this".
A joint statement by top legislative Republicans, including Speaker of the House Todd Richardson, said they will appoint a group of legislators to investigate the charges: "We will carefully examine the facts contained in the indictment and answer the question as to whether or not the governor can lead our state while a felony case moves forward".
Greitens' attorney, in a separate statement, called the indictment "baseless and unfounded".
In Missouri, indictment proceedings would begin in the state House. My client is absolutely innocent. "I did not commit a crime". But I know politics - and I can guarantee you Greitens' chances of surviving this mess just went way down. The statute has a special three-year statute of limitations per 565.255.
Mike Kehoe, the second-ranking Republican in the Missouri Senate, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he was shocked by the news.
Rep. Scott Fitzpatrick said during a news conference Thursday that money the state had set aside for the Children's Health Insurance Program, known as "CHIP", could be re-allocated for higher education now that CHIP has received additional federal funding from Congress.