Government & Politics

Woman at center of the Greitens scandal asks for privacy in first public statement

The woman at the center of the investigation into alleged blackmail by Gov. Eric Greitens asked Friday for privacy through her attorneys as the scandal promises to dominate Missouri headlines for weeks.

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner announced Thursday that she would investigate whether Greitens had taken a nude photograph of a woman with whom he was having an affair without her consent and threatened to blackmail her.

The allegations surfaced hours after Greitens delivered his annual State of the State address when the KMOV television station in St. Louis aired an interview with the woman’s ex-husband and provided audio of a conversation he had recorded without her knowledge.

Her attorney released a statement Friday requesting privacy after the story became national news.

“This story has taken an emotional toll on our client and she is extremely distraught that the information has been made public. It is very disappointing that her ex-husband betrayed her confidence by secretly, and without her knowledge, recording a private and deeply personal conversation and then subsequently released the recording to the media without her consent,” said the statement from Scott Simpson, a St. Charles, Mo., attorney representing the woman.

The statement does not recant or contradict the allegations made on the audio recording that Greitens had photographed the woman, blindfolded and with her hands bound, without her consent in an effort to keep her from talking about the affair.

The scandal has rocked Missouri politics and led multiple Democratic lawmakers to call for Greitens’ resignation. Many Republican lawmakers have called for an investigation into the matter and at least one, Sen. Gary Romine of Farmington, has raised the possibility of impeachment if an investigation does not exonerate the governor.

“Our client is a single mother working hard to raise a family,” the statement said. “She is saddened that during this time of national introspection on the treatment of women in our society, allegations about her private life have been published without her permission.”

Missouri law only requires one party, in this case the ex-husband, to consent to recording an audio conversation. Other states, such as Illinois, require both parties to consent to having a conversation recorded.

The statement notes that multiple reporters from a variety of outlets contacted the woman before the initial television report and that she has consistently made clear her desire for privacy.

The Star and other news outlets initially did not report the allegations when the woman declined comment and made clear she did not want the allegations publicized. But Wednesday night, the governor confirmed the extramarital affair.

Greitens has vehemently denied the blackmail allegations and other allegations made by the ex-husband’s attorney, Albert Watkins.

Watkins said in an email Friday that his client has “no intention of getting into a war of words with the mother of his children about betrayal. He remains committed to doing that which is necessary to protect the interests of his family in general and his minor children in particular.”

“Our client has tried valiantly at great personal, emotional and fiscal expense to keep the actions of others from compromising the integrity of the image of his former spouse from being compromised in the eyes of their children,” Watkins said. “It became clear that this was not a story that was going to go away. It became clear that our client was without the ability to protect his minor children.”

Watkins said his client “seeks nothing more than the exposure of the truth so as to permit this tragedy to permit all who have been used and victimized to commence the healing process.”

Bryan Lowry: 816-234-4077, @BryanLowry3