Report: Missouri Governor Mischaracterized Woman’s Testimony
A woman with whom Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens acknowledged having a consensual affair told prosecutors that Greitens coaxed her into unwanted sexual activity as she was crying "like a wounded little animal on the ground," according to a legislative report that accuses the governor of mischaracterizing the woman's testimony.
The brief, graphic report from a special House investigatory committee is intended as a rebuttal to Greitens, who had asserted that the video interview of the woman "undermined the narrative" of an earlier House report detailing the woman's allegations that Greitens had been physically aggressive toward her.
To the contrary, the House panel said the additional interview bolsters the woman's credibility.
But a spokeswoman for Greitens' legal defense team said it contains "more false information."
The latest report, which was released Monday, highlights the escalating tension between the first-term Republican governor and the GOP-led Legislature, which is weighing whether to initiate impeachment proceedings to try to remove Greitens from office. The panel is expected to release another lengthier report later this week examining allegations that Greitens wrongly used a donor list from a veterans charity he founded to raise money for his political campaign.
Greitens already faces two felony charges. He's scheduled to go to trial May 14 on an invasion of privacy indictment alleging he took and transmitted a nonconsensual photo of the at least partially nude woman in March 2015, before he was elected governor. No trial date has been set yet on a charge of tampering with computer data for allegedly disclosing The Mission Continues donor list to his political fundraiser without the permission of the St. Louis-based charity.
The House committee released a report April 11 with testimony from the woman alleging Greitens had restrained, spanked, slapped, shoved, threatened and belittled her during a series of sexual encounters that at times left her crying and afraid.
The next day, Greitens released a statement asserting that a previously undisclosed video interview of the woman conducted in January by the St. Louis circuit attorney's office "undermined the narrative pushed in the House report."
Among other things, Greitens said allegations of "coercion, violence and assault" were "false." He said the woman talked for almost two hours in the video and never mentioned coercion, which Greitens said was inconsistent with her testimony to the House committee.
The House committee quickly issued a subpoena and obtained a copy of the woman's video interview. It released a transcript of that interview Monday.
The woman did not use the word "coerced" in the prosecutor's interview, but she described the situation with even more graphic words. When she tried to leave Greitens' home, she told prosecutors that he laid her down "in the fetal position" while she was crying hysterically, undid his pants and put his penis near her face, so she gave him oral sex so that she could leave.
She said Greitens was "just really coaxing me like a wounded little animal on the ground," according to the interview transcript.
The woman told prosecutors she was thinking, "He's disgusting. I hate him. I can't believe I'm down here" and "felt super degraded."
The new House report says the woman's interview with the prosecutor's office also is consistent with her testimony to the committee that Greitens had slapped her forcefully in the face during a sexual encounter in June 2015.
The woman's name never has been officially released; it is redacted from legislative documents and she is identified only by her initials in court filings.
Maria Jeffrey, a spokeswoman for Greitens' legal defense team, said in a statement Monday that the new report contains "more false information that has not been subject to cross-examination."
"Any allegation of sexual violence, coercion, or assault are completely and totally untrue," Jeffrey said.
Greitens' attorneys are asking a judge to prohibit testimony from the woman at his upcoming trial because of the "gross misconduct" of a private investigator who interviewed her for prosecutors. Defense lawyers in a Friday court filing also noted that the investigator, William Tisaby, refused to answer questions when he was deposed last week. Judge Rex Burlison didn't rule Monday. He set a hearing for May 7.
Greitens lawyers have accused Tisaby of lying in court and being slow to turn over evidence to the defense. The St. Louis circuit attorney's office acknowledges missteps by Tisaby but says his actions haven't tainted the case.
During a Monday court hearing in St. Louis, Greitens' attorney said that Missouri Times publisher Scott Faughn had provided a $50,000 payment in January to the law firm representing the woman's ex-husband, who had secretly recorded his wife discussing her encounter with Greitens.
Faughn said in an internet video Monday that he had hired the attorney, Al Watkins, because he was working on a book about the 2016 gubernatorial campaign.
Greitens' spokeswoman described it as a payoff to "the people working to take down the governor."
State Rep. Jay Barnes, the chairman of the House investigatory committee, said the House has subpoenaed Watkins and also will issue a subpoena to Faughn.