Government & Politics

Will Greitens’ felony charge be dismissed? St. Louis judge to rule Thursday

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens' booking photo
Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens' booking photo

The “egregious” mistake of relying on a bungling private investigator to help handle the criminal indictment of Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens should not prompt dismissal of the case, a top official in the St. Louis prosecutor’s office told a judge Monday.

The comments came as a judge considers a request from Greitens’ attorneys to dismiss a felony invasion-of-privacy charge against the Republican governor because of missteps by prosecutors. The charge stems from an affair Greitens had with his St. Louis hairdresser and alleges that he took a compromising photo of her without her consent.

Meanwhile Monday, an attorney for Greitens urged Attorney General Josh Hawley to recuse his office from a separate investigation of a veterans charity founded by the governor after Hawley said last week that Greitens should resign.

In the criminal case, the St. Louis circuit attorney’s office hired private investigator William Tisaby rather than relying on local police to investigate, and prosecutors have blamed him for delays in handing over evidence to the defense team.

But, said Chief Trial Assistant Robert Dierker, “this is not worthy of the ultimate sanction of dismissal.”

Circuit Judge Rex Burlison said he would rule Thursday on the defense request to dismiss the case. Greitens was indicted in February and is scheduled go to trial May 14.

In addition to Hawley, several leading lawmakers have called for Greitens' resignation since a special legislative committee’s report last week that included allegations of unwanted sexual aggression against the woman. Greitens has denied any criminal wrongdoing and says the relationship was “entirely consensual.”

Attorneys for Greitens have repeatedly claimed the prosecutor’s office has failed to turn over evidence. They said in court last week that a videotaped deposition of the woman was withheld until an hour after the special House committee’s report was released on Wednesday.

"In the video," Greitens said the next day, "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.

"... The report that was put out last night did not contain this evidence, and the allegations in that report will be refuted by facts, including this video."

The House committee has now obtained a copy of that videotaped interview, The Star learned Monday. The committee's chairman, Rep. Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City, had no comment when reached Monday afternoon.

The judge issued an order Monday granting Greitens' defense team the right to respond to the committee regarding the tape's contents, according to Missouri's electronic case records system.

The judge's order states the court learned Monday that the committee had obtained a copy of the tape, which is a violation of the court's scheduling order.

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner did not object to the disclosure of the videotape or the victim’s entire deposition, her office said.

Meanwhile, in the St. Louis hearing on Monday, defense attorney Jim Martin said 11 pages of Tisaby’s notes from a deposition of a friend of the woman, requested weeks ago, were not turned over until Sunday, after Martin threatened to go to court to ask for them.

“We have seen that information has been hidden from us, exculpatory information,” Martin said.

Dierker, comparing Tisaby to the incompetent fictional Inspector Clouseau from “The Pink Panther” movies, said Tisaby has “caused us to appear to be hiding the ball.”

“We are saddled with the egregious mistake of relying on him,” Dierker said.

Phone and email messages left with Tisaby were not immediately returned Monday.

Hawley, a Republican running for U.S. Senate, is investigating the charity The Mission Continues as it relates to the state’s consumer protection and charitable registration and reporting laws.

Greitens attorney Edward L. Dowd Jr. told Hawley Monday in a letter obtained by The Associated Press that it’s clear the attorney general has “predetermined the guilt of his own investigative target and his investigation is now clearly compromised.”

Dowd wrote that the entire attorney general’s office should be recused because of Hawley’s statement.

Mary Compton, a spokeswoman for Hawley's office, said the request for his recusal from the Mission Continues investigation "is frivolous."

“The Attorney General called for the Governor’s resignation because the House Investigative Committee concluded there was credible evidence that the Governor committed egregious sexual misconduct. The Attorney General’s investigation into The Mission Continues does not address those allegations.

"The fact that the Governor has been credibly accused of engaging in sexual misconduct does not give him or any entity with which he was associated immunity from investigation under the Missouri Merchandizing Practices Act.”

The Star's Jason Hancock, Steve Vockrodt, Bryan Lowry and Lindsay Wise contributed to this article.