Missouri's Republican Gov. Eric Greitens admitted to having an extramarital affair but denied allegations he blackmailed the woman after taking a nude photograph of her while she was blindfolded.
The affair occurred in March 2015 and was revealed after the woman who engaged with Greitens was recorded explaining the incident by her ex-husband, according to an investigation by KMOV. The names of both the woman who engaged in the affair, and her now-ex-husband, have been withheld.
The conversation was recorded only days after the woman's first sexual encounter with Greitens. The two met because the woman would cut the now-governor's hair, KMOV reported. In the recording, the woman said she "instantly had a big crush" on Greitens but was hesitant to go to his house, like he had asked.
The woman wanted to meet for coffee, but Greiteins said, "I can't, I can't be seen with you. This is wrong," according to KMOV. In the recorded conversation with her then-husband, the woman explained, "I said, I know. So he [Greitens] said. Just, please come to my house."
The woman said she went to Greitens' house to "talk" but ended up having a consensual sexual encounter.
"I'll make you feel better," she recalled him saying. "I'll make you feel good. Come downstairs. I want to show you how to do a proper pull-up."
"And I knew he was being sexual and I still let him," she explained in the recording. "And he used some sort of tape, I don't what it was, and taped my hands to these rings and then put a blindfold on me."
She then alleged things got uncomfortable, and Greitens took a picture of her while she was nude and blindfolded, so she wouldn't tell anyone about their encounter.
"He stepped back," the woman said in the recording. "I saw a flash through the blindfold and he said: 'You're never going to mention my name, otherwise there will be pictures of me everywhere.'"
In a joint statement on Wednesday, Greitens and his wife, Sheena Greitens, acknowledged the affair took place a year before he was elected as governor, but they did not address the blackmail accusations.
"A few years ago, before Eric was elected governor, there was a time when he was unfaithful in our marriage. This was a deeply personal mistake. Eric took responsibility, and we dealt with this together honestly and privately," the statement said, KMOV reported. "We understand that there will be some people who cannot forgive – but for those who can find it in your heart, Eric asks for your forgiveness, and we are grateful for your love, your compassion, and your prayers."
The statement continued, "We have a loving marriage and an awesome family; anything beyond that is between us and God. I want the media and those who wish to peddle gossip to stay away from me and my children."
However, a statement from Greitens' attorney, James Bennett, said the blackmail allegations against his client are "false," KMOV reported.
"The claim that this nearly three-year old story has generated or should generate law enforcement interest is completely false. There was no blackmail and that claim is false. This personal matter has been addressed by the Governor and Mrs. Greitens privately years ago when it happened. The outrageous claims of improper conduct regarding these almost three-year-ago events are false."