Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens should step down, or prepare to be impeached. Because what happened between him and his former hairdresser wasn’t an affair, but a physical and sexual assault on the woman, according to the description of his despicable behavior detailed in the unsparing report the House committee investigating the governor released on Wednesday.
Over many hours, the woman told the panel under oath that the governor had slapped her more than once, and had coerced her sexually. On one occasion, she said, he “out of nowhere just, like kind of smacked me and grabbed me and shoved me down on the ground.” All five Republicans and two Democrats on the committee signed the report, and said they believed the woman’s story and found her “to be an overall credible witness.”
The governor, who chose not to testify before the committee, has denied ever hitting or threatening the woman, and said everything that went on between them was consensual. He may believe that, but her account is a lot more believable. It’s also detailed, self-critical, and backed up by two friends in whom she confided at the time, and by her ex-husband.
She told the committee that during her initial sexual encounter with the governor, while she was blindfolded and restrained against her will, Greitens told her that if she ever so much as said his name, he’d see to it that everyone would see the half-naked photo of her he’d just taken, “and everyone will know what a little whore you are.”
Then he spanked her, and as she was “freaking out” and struggling to get free, she told him, “I don’t want this.” But even as she was, as she told the panel, “bawling (her) eyes out,” he pulled out his penis, put it close to her face and pressured her into performing oral sex.
Unlike his account, hers is filled with self-recrimination. “I was so embarrassed and ashamed, because I really felt like a whore because I had let him get me in this situation.” Asked why, after all that, she saw him on a couple of subsequent occasions that she did consider consensual, she said, “I think I just wanted to feel better about it. I didn’t want to think that he thought of me as just a whore.”
The photo, which she says he later told her he’d deleted, is what the criminal invasion of privacy case will turn on. But that isn’t the worst of his transgressions, according to the report. In fact, it chronicles behavior so much more abusive, premeditated and manipulative than even the disturbing allegations we’d heard about already that we’re not sure why prosecutors didn’t pursue additional charges.
If the former Navy SEAL were a person of integrity, he would already have resigned, to spare his family and his state this ordeal. Then again, if the governor were that man, he’d have no reason to step down.
The woman said that she had been in awe of him as “this perfect guy” and Mother Teresa House volunteer since first cutting his hair in 2013. During a salon appointment in March 2015, he ran his hand up her leg to her crotch, and she asked him to stop. Soon after that, he invited her to come to his house to talk on a Saturday his wife was out of town. Nothing was going to happen, he said.
She went before work, at 7 a.m., and when he met her at his back door, he patted her down, took her keys away, searched her purse, and made her change into some pajama bottoms and a T-shirt, apparently to make sure she wasn’t wearing a wire. Then tied her up, seemingly following a script he’d worked out ahead of time.
Greitens could have appeared before the committee, but chose not to. Instead, he appeared on TV on Wednesday, and called the woman a liar who doesn’t know dreams from reality. That’s a reference to her testimony that since she was blindfolded when she saw a flash go off, she’s really not sure she ever saw his phone, or whether the image she has of it is one she dreamed later. But after what happened in his basement, some nightmares wouldn’t be surprising. The governor also referred to the investigation as a witch hunt, and compared himself to Donald Trump. In that, at least, he has a point. But he shouldn’t keep his job.