Missouri’s newly elected Republican Gov. Eric Greitens, who ran in part on a platform of family values, on Wednesday admitted to having an extramarital affair three years ago with a married woman, but denied allegations that he blackmailed her. He assumed office last January.
St. Louis network KMOV News 4 first reported the allegations after obtaining a tape in which the woman apologizes for having a sexual relationship with Greitens to her now ex-husband. The woman cut Greitens’s hair and immediately “had a big crush on him.” The flirtation escalated into a meeting at his home, she said.
In the recording, she describes a sexual encounter with Greitens in 2015 that began consensually, but soon made her uncomfortable. He put a blindfold on her and tied her hands to a set of rings at his home, and took a nude photo of her:
Woman: “He stepped back, I saw a flash through the blindfold and he said: “you’re never going to mention my name, otherwise there will be pictures of me everywhere.”
“I was just numb. I just stood there and didn’t (expletive) know,” the woman said.
The woman reportedly went on to say that Greitens later apologized to her for the incident and deleted the photo.
The ex-husband, who has not been identified, told News 4 that he is coming forward now because law enforcement officials and the media have started contacting him. “Something happened, churned this, and had people hounding me, even leaving a voicemail on my daughter’s phone—when that happened, everything changed,” he said. The woman has not commented on the report.
“He took a picture of my wife naked as blackmail. There is no worse person,” the woman’s ex-husband said. In the recording, the two attempt to reconcile, but the woman allegedly continued a relationship with Greitens. The couple divorced in March 2016.
On Wednesday, Greitens’s attorney James Bennett released a statement to News 4 denying the blackmail allegations. “The claim that this nearly three-year old story has generated or should generate law enforcement interest is completely false. There was no blackmail and that claim is false,” the statement read. “This personal matter has been addressed by the Governor and Mrs. Greitens privately years ago when it happened. The outrageous claims of improper conduct regarding these almost three-year-ago events are false.”
The Greitens issued a joint statement admitting to the affair, but did not address the allegations. “A few years ago, before Eric was elected Governor, there was a time when he was unfaithful in our marriage. This was a deeply personal mistake,” the wrote. “Eric took responsibility, and we dealt with this together honestly and privately. While we never would have wished for this pain in our marriage, or the pain that this has caused others, with God’s mercy Sheena has forgiven and we have emerged stronger.”
Correction: this article previously stated that Greitens assumed office on Tuesday. It has been updated to reflect that he assumed office January 9, 2017.