Gov. Greitens says he plans to fight the “witch hunt” and accusations around affair
Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens' attorneys accused prosecutors of misconduct Thursday in an effort to dismiss the criminal case against the governor a day after a legislative report raised new allegations of sexual and physical abuse.
The report from a bipartisan committee includes the allegations that Greitens coerced a woman into oral sex and struck her on three occasions. This follows the allegation at the center of the criminal case that the governor photographed the woman, semi-nude and with her hands bound, to keep her from speaking about their extramarital affair.
Defense attorneys accused the St. Louis circuit attorney's office of withholding evidence, specifically a videotape on an interview with the alleged victim and notes from investigator William Don Tisaby, who was hired by St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner.
Jim Martin, one of Greitens’ attorneys, said in the video he woman tells a different story than in the House report. Greitens' team asked for the case to be dismissed and for sanctions against Gardner's office.
Martin said the woman said in the taped interview that the relationship was consensual and that her friends initially didn’t remember being told of a slap.
She also testified that she was aroused during her encounter with Greitens, Martin said.
“The tape tells an entirely different story about (her) interactions with the governor," Martin said. He added that the taped deposition “greatly undercuts her credibility.”
Prosecutors said the tape of the deposition initially malfunctioned and that the first 15 to 20 minutes had no audio. They said that when they discovered the audio worked later in the two-hour deposition, they turned it over to the defense counsel within the allowed 48-hour period.
Defense attorneys received the tape on Wednesday.
Gardner's office said in a filing Thursday evening that she first learned the tape could be viewed April 9 and arranged to have it examined by an IT professional in her office. She first watched the video April 10 and was not aware of Tisaby's notes until she viewed the video, she said.
"From the outset of this case, defense strategy has been to attack in all directions in the hope of inducing the Court to abort the case without trial. The credibility of of the victim is a question for the jury," the filing stated.
"Most importantly, the scorched earth strategy of the defense rests on diversionary tactics."
Robert Steele, one of the prosecutors in the case, said in court that the notes from Tisaby and the video interview do not change the elements of the case.
“Whether she was aroused was not relevant to the charge,” Steele said. “The elements of the case stay the same.”
During Thursday’s hearing, Judge Rex Burlison clarified that the gag order in the case applies to the attorneys in the case. He said Greitens is free to speak, defend himself in public and scream he is innocent.
Greitens released a statement Thursday afternoon attacking the prosecutor, the media, the House report and his alleged victim, who he contended has changed
"Just last night — as false stories were being pushed to press — the prosecutor turned over a videotape of her interview with the woman. This was evidence that the prosecutor was legally required to turn over months ago. She purposefully kept it hidden until one hour after the false report was released," Greitens said in a statement.
"In the video, the woman talks for almost two hours, and never once mentions any coercion. In the House report, there is a false allegation that I slapped the woman. That allegation had been made once before, and it was disproven. The story changed, so I will say again: it did not happen," Greitens said.
The criminal case deals only with the allegation that Greitens took a photograph of the woman without her consent in 2015, a year before he was elected governor, to keep her from speaking about the affair. The criminal indictment does not delve into the additional allegations of sexual and physical abuse outlined in the legislative report.
Steele said the alleged photo was “taken in a place where she has an expectation of privacy. It wouldn’t have changed the indictment.”
Greitens has admitted to the affair but has denied using a photograph for blackmail. His trial is scheduled to begin on May 14 in St. Louis.