This story was republished with permission from the Columbia Missourian.
JEFFERSON CITY — The woman who had an affair with Gov. Eric Greitens told House lawmakers that not all of their encounters were consensual and that the governor was sometimes violent.
The details were included in a graphic report released by a House investigative committee Wednesday. The committee did not recommend any specific action against Greitens, stating that doing so would be outside the scope of their duties. Among the options House lawmakers would have include calling for impeachment.
An hour before the committee released its report, Greitens held a defiant press conference.
“We fully expect that the report being released tonight will include lies and falsehoods,” Greitens said. “Let’s call this what it is: a political witch hunt.”
“I will continue to serve the people of Missouri as their governor and work for you every day,” Greitens said. “But the people of Missouri see through this, and they know far better than to trust one-sided tabloid trash gossip.”
House Speaker Todd Richardson said the investigative committee is still working and needs more time. He also said that he is now asking them to make recommendations for action. As a result, he will ask lawmakers to vote to hold a special session this summer to consider any recommendations the committee makes.
State Rep. Gail McCann Beatty, the House minority leader, disagreed with that plan, saying there is enough information in the report to move for impeachment now.
“It is clear to me that this governor must resign, and if he fails to do so, I believe we must begin the impeachment process,” McCann Beatty said.
Richardson praised the special committee on their work on the investigation. He also fired back at Greitens’ statements.
“Let me be very clear: This is not a witch hunt. This committee’s task — and its only task — was to conduct the fairest and the most thorough timely investigation possible,” Richardson said. “The governor was asked to give his version of the facts; that is still open.”
Greitens softened his criticism later in the evening.
“This was an unfortunate process, in which good people, including some on the committee, were left to try and do the right thing and sort through lies and falsehoods without access to the full facts,” he stated. “In the court of law, everyone will have the facts, and these allegations will be proven false.”
The woman’s account
The report has extensive testimony from the woman, who told the committee about each encounter she had with Greitens. According to the report, the committee found the woman’s testimony credible.
The woman testified that Greitens began coming to the hair salon where she worked in 2013 and became a regular client. She said that during a hair appointment in March 2015, Greitens put his hand up her leg and onto her crotch without her consent.
The two of them later agreed to meet to talk at Greitens’ house. The woman said she had wanted to meet in public, but Greitens told her they couldn’t be seen together because he was campaigning.
When the woman arrived, Greitens proposed doing a workout with her. He gave her clothes to change into, which the woman described as a men’s white T-shirt and pajama pants. The two went to the basement, where the woman said Greitens taped her hands to pull-up rings and then blindfolded her.
Greitens then tried to kiss the woman, tore open her shirt and pulled down her pants. The woman did not consent to Greitens pulling down her pants, she told the committee. It was at that point that the woman said she heard something like a cell phone and then saw a flash through the blindfold.
The woman said she never saw the phone or a photo but felt that her privacy was invaded. Two witnesses corroborated the woman’s testimony, saying she had called them after the encounter and told them what happened.
The committee has no evidence of the photo or its transmission.
Greitens told the woman not to mention his name, and “If you do, I’m going to take these pictures, and I’m going to put them everywhere I can,” the woman testified.
The woman said Greitens then continued to touch her without consent and she began to cry uncontrollably. He then coerced her into performing oral sex.
“I did it — it felt like consent, but no, I didn’t want to do it,” she said to the committee. She added that she felt afraid and that she would otherwise be unable to leave the house.
Greitens told the woman that he felt bad about taking the picture and that he deleted it, she testified. Witnesses corroborated the woman’s account.
Greitens and the woman had several other consensual sexual encounters. During one, the woman said Greitens slapped her after she told him she had sex with her husband.
“I felt like he was trying to claim me,” the woman told the committee. A witness confirmed that the woman said Greitens had hit her.
Greitens refused to testify because the committee had asked for documents produced in the criminal case and they were under a nondisclosure order. The report, however, said the request was broader than just those produced in the criminal case and that Greitens did not supply those other documents.
The report said Greitens’ refusal was disappointing but that “his failure to participate is not held by the Committee as an indication of the truthfulness of the allegations.”
The report also includes testimony from the woman’s ex-husband, who said an unidentified third-party paid $15,000 to cover legal costs.
The woman testified that while Greitens publicly admitted their affair, she was upset by his denials of behavior she said was hurtful.
“I was so vulnerable. I just feel taken advantage of, I think — and also by my ex-husband, hugely.”
The woman’s ex-husband secretly recorded a conversation in which she details her encounters with Greitens. The ex-husband repeatedly threatened the woman, saying he would release the recording, according to the report.
“You guys are going to go down because I have proof of it,” the woman said her ex-husband told her. “I’m going to ruin this guy.”
During his Wednesday news conference, Greitens said the process is unfair and lawmakers should have waited until the case makes it through the criminal justice system. Greitens is charged with felony invasion of privacy for taking and transmitting a photo of the woman without permission. The trial is scheduled to begin May 14.
“In the United States of America, you get your day in court,” Greitens said.
“Let’s call this what it is: a political witch hunt now based on the testimony of someone who said under oath that they may be remembering this through a dream.”
The governor was referring to a court filing from the criminal case in which his legal team released an excerpt of the woman’s testimony. It said she doesn’t know if her belief that Greitens photographed her with his phone was the result of a dream. Her attorney has said the statement is taken out of context.
Greitens left the press conference without taking questions.
Columbia Missourian reporters Riley Newton and Max Fillion contributed to this report.
Supervising editor is Mark Horvit, firstname.lastname@example.org.