Woman accusing embattled Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens of invasion of privacy will testify

The woman claims he took a compromising photo of her without her consent.

May 7, 2018, 4:59 PM

The woman at the center of an invasion-of-privacy trial against Missouri's governor will be allowed to testify at his trial that is set to begin next week.

A St. Louis Circuit Court judge on Monday rejected arguments by lawyers for Gov. Eric Greitens that the testimony of the woman, who alleges Greitens took a photo of her without her consent while she was partially nude and bound, would be tainted because of alleged missteps by an investigator for the prosecutor’s office.

Greitens, once a rising star of the Republican Party with national ambitions, was indicted in February on a felony charge of invasion of privacy stemming from allegations by the woman, with whom he acknowledges having had an affair before he was elected governor in 2016.

The woman, who has not been publicly identified, alleges that the married Greitens took an unauthorized photograph of her when she was partially nude, blindfolded and taped to an exercise machine during a sexual encounter in 2015. Prosecutors have said they do not possess the photo so the woman's trial testimony is considered critical to their case.

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley speaks at a news conference in St. Louis, June 21, 2017.
Jim Salter/AP, FILE

According to the woman's testimony before a special investigative committee of the Missouri legislature, she bases her claim that he took the photo on seeing a flash through the blindfold and hearing what sounded like a cellphone camera. She also alleges that Greitens threatened to use the picture against her if she divulged their affair.

The indictment charges that Greitens took the photo without the woman’s consent and “transmitted the image … in a manner that allowed access to that image via a computer.”

Greitens has pleaded not guilty.

The alleged incident came to light in January when a local television station obtained an audio recording made by the ex-husband of the woman on which she discusses the affair with Greitens.

His defense lawyers had asked Circuit Judge Rex Burlison to disallow the woman’s testimony in the upcoming trial based on the alleged misdeeds of an investigator used by the prosecutor’s office in the case. Greitens' lawyers claim investigator William Tisaby lied and withheld evidence.

Greitens' lawyers are also battling a search warrant obtained by the prosecutor’s office to search the governor's email account. While the warrant itself is sealed, a defense motion to quash it reveals that prosecutors are pursuing the alleged photo. Their motion quotes an investigator who, in arguing for the search, says there could be evidence in the account “that there may have been efforts to access or delete the photo in question.”

The defense disputes this possibility, saying there is no probable cause for the search warrant: “The affidavit,” they argue, “offers no evidence that Mr. Greitens used the account to send anything in particular, let alone an alleged picture.”

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens speaks at a news conference in Jefferson City, Mo., April 11, 2018.
J.B. Forbes/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP, FILE

Greitens has a host of problems besides the invasion-of-privacy criminal case.

Shortly after that trial is to begin, the Missouri Legislature will initiate impeachment proceedings against the governor. He also faces a separate felony charge that he illegally obtained and used the donor list of a private charity for his political campaign for governor. At the same time, a civil case is proceeding against the governor to force release of information surrounding his use of a message-deleting app called Confide.

Greitens has refused calls to resign by state leaders in Missouri, including the Republican attorney general.