Government & Politics

Greitens’ alleged victim will be allowed to testify at his trial, judge rules

Five things to know about the Greitens scandal

A St. Louis grand jury on Feb. 22 indicted Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens on a felony charge of invasion of privacy.
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A St. Louis grand jury on Feb. 22 indicted Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens on a felony charge of invasion of privacy.

A judge on Monday rejected a motion from Gov. Eric Greitens' legal team seeking to exclude testimony from his alleged victim at his criminal trial next week.

The governor's team had sought to strike the testimony from the woman and a friend who serves as a corroborating witness on the basis that they were interviewed by William Don Tisaby, a private investigator hired by the St. Louis circuit attorney's office. Tisaby has taken the Fifth Amendment amid a flurry of misconduct allegations from Greitens' team.

Jim Martin, an attorney for Greitens, contended Monday that prosecutors have hidden evidence and concealed interviews. He alleged that the prosecution “molded” the woman’s testimony to achieve a political objective — “destroying a sitting governor.”

Prosecutor Robert Dierker said Martin’s argument was one for a closing argument, not a pretrial hearing. Dierker said the testimony of the woman has been consistent.

“If she had said there was no picture at one time, then she would be impeachable,” he said.

Dierker confirmed that the St. Louis prosecutor's office does not have the photograph that Greitens allegedly took of the woman, without her consent and while she was bound and partly nude, to keep her from speaking about their extramarital affair. Greitens faces a felony charge of invasion of privacy.

Greitens’ attorneys also are seeking to quash a search warrant for the Republican governor’s Gmail account.

The prosecutor's office obtained the warrant on Thursday and referenced it in a filing the next day. The actual warrant remains sealed.

Greitens' team filed a motion Sunday seeking to quash the warrant, citing the high bar set by the Missouri Supreme Court to justify this type of search.

“There exists no evidence that this Gmail account was utilized in any way as part of any alleged crime or that it would contain evidence of the alleged crime,” the filing from Greitens’ team states.

Greitens’ team also filed a motion Friday seeking to block the state’s request for the governor to turn over his cellphone for forensic examination. The filing argues that compelling the governor to turn over his phone would violate his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

The alleged victim in the case and her ex-husband have already had to turn over their cellphones for examination.

The allegations were first made public by the woman's ex-husband after his attorney, Al Watkins, received $100,000 in cash payments. Half of the money came from Scott Faughn, the publisher of The Missouri Times.

First Assistant Circuit Attorney Robert Steele said prosecutor had no knowledge of the payments until Watkins announced it to reporters on the courthouse steps.

During Monday’s hearing, Martin said Watkins received two additional $10,000 payments from Faughn on top of the money that was previously disclosed.

Defense lawyers want to question Faughn but they’ve been unable to serve with a subpoena.

“Faughn is on the run right now," Martin said. We can’t find him to take his deposition.”

Faughn was not present at his newspaper's office in Clayton Monday and his employees would not comment on his whereabouts. He has not been seen at the Missouri Capitol since last Monday.

Greitens' team also wanted information about payments for attorneys representing Watkins now that he has become a witness in the case, but Judge Rex Burlison rejected that request.

The judge also ruled that three expert witnesses whom prosecutors wanted to call to the stand will not be allowed to testify.

“We don’t need an expert opinion to come in and say, ‘Yeah, it was an Apple,' ” Burlison said about an engineer who was going to testify about what constitutes the transmission of a photo and about the sound an Apple iPhone makes when taking a picture.

“The jury needs no assistance to determine what happens when you take a picture," the judge said.

Gov. Eric Greitens spoke to members of the media Wednesday saying that the investigation into allegations he blackmailed a woman he had an affair with is a "witch hunt."