Missouri lawmakers spent roughly seven hours Tuesday reading aloud the previously secret testimony of a woman who has accused Gov. Eric Greitens of coercive and violent sexual misconduct during a 2015 extramarital affair.
The transcripts, provided to the committee by the St. Louis circuit attorney’s office, offered a glimpse at the governor's legal team's strategy to attempt to undermine the woman's credibility, with questions about her sexual history, piercings and even whether she was sexually aroused by the book "Fifty Shades of Grey."
Members of a Missouri House committee investigating the governor took turns reading transcripts Tuesday of the woman's testimony to a St. Louis grand jury and a deposition by Greitens' attorneys.
The purpose was to put the transcripts on the committee's official record as it moves forward with possible impeachment of the governor. It also was designed to target concerns that Greitens' attorneys will not be permitted to cross-examine witnesses at future committee hearings.
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The woman's testimony to the grand jury didn't differ from what she later told the House committee, as detailed in a graphic 25-page report it released in early April. Specifically, she was consistent in her description of allegations that Greitens took a nude photo of her — without her consent and while she was bound and blindfolded — and threatened to release it publicly if she ever spoke about the relationship.
But the lion's share of Tuesday's proceedings consisted of legislators reading the transcript of a contentious nine-hour deposition of the woman conducted by Greitens' attorneys in early April.
The governor's attorneys pressed the woman repeatedly about whether she had ever lied to anyone about the 2015 affair. She said that while she may have withheld details from her ex-husband, friends and family at the time, she has told the truth since the details became public in January.
The governor's attorneys delved into the woman's tumultuous relationship with her now ex-husband. The woman painted a picture of an emotionally abusive relationship, with her then-husband consistently accusing her of infidelity.
Her relationship with Greitens began while she and her husband were separated, but continued later while they were reconciled. They later divorced. She told the governor's attorneys that she never had a sexual relationship with anyone during her marriage other than Greitens.
They also asked the woman whether she was a member of any dating sites; whether she had ever bragged that she could seduce male clients at her hair salon; whether she had ever had a pierced belly button; and whether she had ever used recreational drugs.
She answered that she had a pierced belly button as a teen, never did drugs, never bragged she could seduce clients and was not a member of a dating site.
Greitens' attorneys also asked her whether she'd seen the movie "Fifty Shades of Grey," how she felt about it and whether she ever discussed it with Greitens.
She said she read the books and saw the movie. She didn't recall if she ever discussed it with Greitens.
During the deposition, she said that both Greitens and his Democratic rival in the 2016 gubernatorial campaign, Chris Koster, were her clients at her hair salon. After the election, she said, Koster told her he knew about her relationship with Greitens.
The woman, whose identity has not been revealed publicly, told the grand jury and the House committee that in March 2015, Greitens led her down to the basement of his St. Louis home, taped her hands to pull-up rings, blindfolded her, spit water into her mouth, ripped open her shirt, pulled down her pants and took a photo without her consent.
She said Greitens threatened to make the photo public if she ever told anyone about their encounter, and called her "a little whore.” As she tried to leave the basement, she said Greitens grabbed her, laid her on the floor, started fondling her, pulled out his penis and coerced her into oral sex while she wept uncontrollably.
She also said there was one occasion when Greitens slapped her and another when he shoved her to the ground during a sexual encounter.
Greitens has admitted he had an affair with the woman but has denied any criminal wrongdoing, saying in April that “this was an entirely consensual relationship, and any allegation of violence or sexual assault is false.”
The criminal charge stemming from the grand jury indictment was dropped last week. But the judge in the case appointed Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker to look at the case and consider whether to file any charges.
The House committee is meeting to determine whether Greitens should be impeached. Lawmakers called themselves into a 30-day special session to consider impeachment.
The House committee voted Tuesday on a resolution that establishes the framework of the special session. The unanimously approved resolution rejects a proposal by the governor to allow his attorneys to cross-examine any witnesses.
"I think they've already had ample time to basically cross-examine everybody," said Rep. Don Phillips, R-Kimberling City, who serves as vice chairman of the House investigative committee. "They've talked to the same key witnesses that we have for hours on end. So I don't think the cross-examination would be much more than probably just an attempt to almost filibuster the committee."
A spokesman for Greitens’ attorneys released a statement saying if the committee would “allow us to cross-examine witnesses, they would get accurate information. I hope they allow us that minimum due process."