Late Thursday afternoon Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens was indicted on one count of felony invasion of privacy.
The charges levied by a St. Louis grand jury allege Greitens “knowingly took a photograph of a woman in a state of full or partial nudity without the knowledge and consent of that woman.”
The charges further allege the photograph was taken in a place where a person would have a reasonable expectation of privacy and the defendant transmitted the image in a manner that allowed access through a computer.
Greitens has denied the allegations and posted the following statement on his Facebook page:
“As I have said before, I made a personal mistake before I was governor. I did not commit a crime. With today’s disappointing and misguided political decision, my confidence in our prosecutorial system is shaken, but not broken. I know this will be righted soon. The people of Missouri deserve better than a reckless liberal prosecutor who uses her office to score political points.
“I look forward to the legal remedies to reverse this action. This will not for a moment deter me from doing the important work of the great people of Missouri.”
Shortly after Greitens was booked and released on a written promise to appear Thursday afternoon, his attorney was planning to file a motion to dismiss the charges levied by the grand jury.
As they have since news of Greitens’ extramarital affair and allegations of criminal activity were made public last month, local lawmakers are taking a wait and see stance.
State Sen. Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan, says he is disappointed and embarrassed by the indictment, but as of now, he has a wait and see attitude and doesn’t want to rush to judgment.
“The headlines say he was indicted not that he’s guilty,” Schatz said. “We have to wait and see where the facts lead before we go down any path. I hope this issue isn’t just being politicized and we have to be very careful how we move forward.”
Schatz added although he is not calling for the governor to resign at this time, he certainly questions Greitens’ ability to effectively lead the state from this point forward.
“We don’t know if this was a one-time thing, or if it was a pattern of behavior,” Schatz said. “We all have things in our lives we probably wouldn’t want the public to see. But, if the public knew about some of these things before, (Greitens) may not have risen to this level.”
Since the news of the indictment came after the Senate had already adjourned for the weekend, Schatz has not had a chance to speak with Senate leadership as to the course they will take in the coming days and weeks.
State Rep. Nathan Tate, R-St. Clair, agrees the governor’s legal troubles are a distraction and looks forward to seeing the facts of any House investigation that may be opened.
“We still live in America and people are innocent until proven guilty,” Tate said. “At this point the House almost has to open an investigation. That will give us subpoena power and we can get our hands on the files Kim Gardner has. That will tell us if we have anything to go on or not. Until then, I will try to take the high road.”
As of now, Tate said he will be moving forward with his nine bills he has filed and continue to push them through.
“All our bills need is a governor signature,” Tate said. “It can be Greitens or someone else’s.”
State Rep. Paul Curtman, R-Pacific, says there is a difference between the court of public opinion and a court of law.
“There is much more I need to know before I can make a comment on this,” Curtman said. “I haven’t had a problem with calling on officials to resign in the past, but we need more information than a recording of a women confessing she had an affair.”
Although he stopped short of calling for a full resignation at this time, Curtman said anytime an official is mired in an issue like this it’s always hurtful and Missourians deserve much more out of their leaders.
“Right now, it’s only an indictment,” Curtman said. “Anybody can be indicted. In this hyperpolitical world, we have to see if there was actually a crime committed. I want to make sure I’m responding to the right information.”
State Rep. Justin Alferman, R-Hermann, who has been critical of the governor since the scandal arose, said he supports the House leadership in their call to carefully review the serious charge that has been leveled against Greitens.
“My current concern rests with the question as to whether or not he can competently lead our state amid the indictment and multiple pending investigations surrounding him,” Alferman said.
Both the House and Senate are scheduled to reconvene at 4 p.m. Monday afternoon.