Jury selection for the trial of Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens begins

He was considered a rising star in the Republican Party.

May 10, 2018, 7:14 PM

Jury selection for the trial of Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens began Thursday in St Louis. Greitens, who was once considered a rising star in the Republican Party with presidential aspirations, faces a felony charge of invasion of privacy for allegedly taking a semi-nude photograph of a woman without her consent.

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."

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens speaks at a news conference in Jefferson City, Mo., about allegations related to his extramarital affair with his hairdresser, April 11, 2018.
Jefferson City News-Tribune via AP, FILE

Prosecutors have acknowledged that they don't possess the picture at the heart of the case but were granted a warrant last week 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.

If convicted, the sitting governor, a former Rhodes Scholar, and Navy Seal could be removed from office and face a sentence of four years in prison.

Members of the St. Louis streets department unload barricades on the side of the Civil Courts building in St. Louis, Mo., on May 9, 2018, in advance of the start of jury selection in the trial of Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens.
Robert Cohen/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP

In addition, Greitens faces a second, unrelated criminal charge of misusing the donor list of a charity to raise money for his gubernatorial campaign. He has denied this charge.

But whether he's found guilty of these charges, his status as governor is in jeopardy on another front.

On May 18, just a few days after the invasion of privacy trial opens next week, the Missouri Legislature will convene a special session to begin impeachment proceedings against him.