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Report Alleges Missouri Governor Sexually Assaulted Woman During Extramarital Affair


Beyond disturbing - that's how Missouri's Republican House speaker described allegations against the state's governor. The details are in a new report. It claims Missouri Governor Eric Greitens physically and sexually abused a woman he had an affair with before he took office. Calls are growing for him to resign. Greitens, a one-time rising star in the Republican Party, is pushing back. Marshall Griffin of St. Louis Public Radio has more. And a warning - some listeners may find this story disturbing.

MARSHALL GRIFFIN, BYLINE: On the night of January 10, just minutes after Eric Greitens delivered his annual State of the State address, a St. Louis TV station aired a story claiming that he had an extramarital affair with his hairdresser in 2015. The story included allegations that Greitens tied up and blindfolded the woman during their very first encounter, took a compromising picture of her and then threatened to put it online if she ever went public. The night the story broke, Greitens publicly admitted to the affair but denied the blackmail charge and continues to do so.


ERIC GREITENS: This was a private mistake that has nothing to do with governing and shouldn't be about politics, but people are turning that personal mistake into a political spectacle. Let's call this what it is - a political witch hunt.

GRIFFIN: The governor has had a prickly relationship with members of his own party even before this evolved into a criminal investigation. In February, the governor was arrested and charged with invasion of privacy. He's set to go on trial next month. Meanwhile, fellow Republican and House Speaker Todd Richardson formed a bipartisan committee to investigate the allegations, releasing a 25-page report yesterday. In it, the woman involved says Greitens coerced her into performing a sex act after taking the photo, slapped her, verbally abused her and left her crying uncontrollably. She says as their relationship continued, there were multiple instances of physical and emotional abuse and a number of sexual encounters that were not consensual. Speaker Richardson says the report is anything but a witch hunt.


TODD RICHARDSON: And the committee had no political agenda. Before issuing the report, the committee repeatedly gave the governor the opportunity to testify with his version of the facts. That invitation remains open.

GRIFFIN: Richardson says the House is coordinating with the Missouri Senate on a possible special session at which the governor could be impeached. Meanwhile, the governor says the report is full of lies and falsehoods and predicts he'll be exonerated once the invasion of privacy case goes to trial. But he's been hemorrhaging support from fellow Republicans across the state ever since the scandal broke. GOP House member Marsha Haefner is one of several lawmakers calling on Greitens to resign.


MARSHA HAEFNER: This is a huge distraction to the work that needs to be done for the people of Missouri. I've never had a reporter come to my office yet this year to see what we're doing legislatively to move the state forward.

GRIFFIN: Meanwhile, the judge who's hearing the invasion of privacy case is considering another request by Greitens' legal team to toss it out. Today, it accused the prosecutor of misconduct. It says she withheld parts of videotaped testimony of the woman involved with the governor. But that doesn't change what's in the House committee report. And some lawmakers say that Governor Eric Greitens could still face impeachment even if he's found not guilty at his trial in St. Louis next month. For NPR News, I'm Marshall Griffin in Jefferson City, Mo. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Marshall Griffin