JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Attorneys defending Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens against a felony invasion-of-privacy charge have raised new doubts about a key allegation that he took a nonconsensual photo of a partially nude woman with whom he had an affair.
In a court filing dated Sunday, Greitens’ attorneys say the woman testified during a Friday deposition that she never saw Greitens with a camera or phone on the day he is accused of taking a partially nude photo of her while she was blindfolded and her hands bound.
The court filing says the woman also testified that she doesn’t know if her belief that he had a phone was the result of a dream.
A spokeswoman for St. Louis Circuit attorney Kim Gardner said Monday that Greitens’ attorneys had “cherry picked bits and pieces” of the woman’s nine-hour deposition “to attack her credibility.”
The filing is labeled as a motion to compel St. Louis city prosecutors to turn over any previously undisclosed testimony or evidence that may be beneficial to Greitens’ criminal defense.
Gardner spokeswoman Susan Ryan called the motion “frivolous” and said prosecutors have complied with all evidence-sharing rules.
Scott Simpson, an attorney for the woman, said in a statement late Monday that Greitens has admitted to his client on multiple occasions that he photographed her without her consent and threatened to release the image if she told anyone about their relationship.
“Instead of taking responsibility for his actions, Gov. Greitens has decided to let his team attack my client by mischaracterizing her deposition testimony,” Simpson said.
He added that he will support a motion to release the complete transcript of her deposition, but with her name and other identifying information redacted.
Greitens’ defense team has been urging a special Missouri House committee to delay its own investigatory report — planned to be released this week — until after Greitens’ trial in May.
Greitens acknowledged in January that he had an extramarital affair in 2015 as he was preparing to run for governor. That came as St. Louis television station KMOV aired a report in which the woman describes a March 21, 2015, encounter with Greitens during a conversation that her husband secretly recorded.
In that recorded conversation, the woman says Greitens invited her into the basement of his St. Louis home, where he tied her hands to some exercise rings, blindfolded her and partially undid her clothing. She said she saw a flash through the blindfold and Greitens said to her, “You’re never going to mention my name, otherwise there will be pictures of me everywhere.” The woman said Greitens told her later in the day that he had erased the photo.
Greitens has denied blackmailing the woman but has not directly answered questions about whether he took a photo.
A St. Louis grand jury indicted Greitens in February for allegedly taking the photo and transmitting it in a way that it could be accessed by a computer.
Prosecutors previously acknowledged that they don’t have the photo. But they could be trying to obtain it. If the photo were taken using a smartphone, it may have been automatically transmitted to cloud-based storage and the government could subpoena a technology company for access to it.
The court filing by Greitens’ attorneys said the woman participated in a lengthy deposition Friday. After acknowledging she hadn’t seen a camera or phone, she was asked if she saw what she believed to be a phone.
“I haven’t talked about it because I don’t know if it’s because I’m remembering it through a dream or I — I’m not sure, but yes, I feel like I saw it after that happened,” she responded, according to the court filing.
Ryan said, “There is nothing substantially new about the victim’s testimony in the deposition.” She said Greitens’ defense team is “playing political games” and attempting “to try this case in the media.”
The court filing says the woman also acknowledged that she sent partially nude images of herself to Greitens in June 2015 and had willingly continued to see him for months after the March 2015 encounter. Greitens’ attorneys said that was an indication she didn’t feel like her privacy had been violated.