CHICAGO: The governor of the US state of Missouri was charged Thursday with criminal invasion of privacy for taking compromising photos of his former mistress without her knowledge, in an alleged blackmail case.
Governor Eric Greitens was taken into custody and booked Thursday, according to the St Louis Post-Dispatch newspaper, after a grand jury issued the felony charge related to allegations that he blackmailed a woman with whom he was having an affair.
Greitens has admitted to the affair in 2015, before he took office as the chief executive of the Midwestern state.
According to the newspaper, Greitens took a photograph of the woman in a compromising pose — bound and partially nude — and threatened to publicize the image if the affair was exposed, charges he denies.
The indictment document says that Greitens “knowingly photographed” an unidentified woman in “a state of full or partial nudity without (her) knowledge or consent.”
“The defendant subsequently transmitted the image contained in the photograph in a manner that allowed access to that image via a computer.”
The transmission of the photo made the offense a felony rather than a lesser misdemeanor, according to The New York Times.
“As I have stated before, it is essential for residents of the City of St. Louis and our state to have confidence in their leaders,” St Louis prosecutor Kimberly Gardner said in a statement.
“They must know that the Office of the Circuit Attorney will hold public officials accountable in the same manner as any other resident of our city.”
Greitens has said he would not resign and denied blackmail allegations in a previous interview with a local television station.
“There was no blackmail. There was no violence. The mistake that I made was that I was engaged in a consensual relationship with a woman who wasn’t my wife,” the governor told KTVI.
The governor’s lawyer called the criminal charge “baseless and unfounded,” and vowed to file a motion to dismiss, according to the Post-Dispatch.
The governor was released on his own recognizance, without a monetary bond. A court date of March 16 was set for the next hearing in the case. AFP