The invasion of privacy case against embattled Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens has been dropped by St. Louis prosecutors.
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Prosecutors said they intend to refile at a later date, but want a special prosecutor appointed to do so.
Greitens, who is married, has admitted to having an affair with his former hairdresser in 2015, the year before he was elected governor. The woman told investigators that during a sexual encounter in the basement of Greitens’ home, while she was bound and blindfolded, she saw a flash through the blindfold and heard the sound of a cellphone camera going off. Greitens then threatened her with the release of the picture should she ever reveal the affair, she said.
Missouri’s felony invasion of privacy law prohibits taking compromising, unauthorized photos and transmitting images "in a manner that allows access to that image via computer."
Prosecutors have acknowledged that they don't possess the picture at the heart of the case but were granted a warrant earlier this month to search the governor’s personal email account.
For his part, Greitens has not answered whether he took the picture and has denied that he blackmailed the woman. He has called the proceedings against him a “political witch hunt” and has vowed to stay on as governor, despite calls for him to resign by several of the state’s leaders.
In a statement Monday evening, Greitens said: "Today, the prosecutor dropped the false charges against me. This was a great victory and a long time coming. I've said from the beginning that I am innocent. This experience has also been humbling, and I've emerged from it a changed man.
"I believe that in all of our lives, we have to deal with pain, and that if we deal with it in the right way, we can learn wisdom. We all have to deal with suffering, but if we deal with it in the right way, we can emerge with strength. I also believe, as many people of faith do, that even in the hardest situations, we can find blessings.
"Above all, I am sorry for the pain that this process and my actions have caused my family, my friends, and the people of Missouri. I am extraordinarily grateful for the tremendous patience and courage of friends, family, and people of faith, who have all recognized that in time comes the truth. We have a great mission before us. And at this time, I'd ask people of goodwill to come together so that we may continue to do good together," the statement concluded.