Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker will not file charges against former Governor Eric Greitens in a felony case that originated in St. Louis.
Baker, a Democrat who has served as Jackson County Prosecutor since 2011, was on a tight deadline to bring charges against the former Republican governor. Baker said that with a statute of limitations set to expire this weekend, her office did not have sufficient evidence to consider filing new charges in the Greitens case. She said still missing was corroborating evidence for an invasion of privacy case.
She said her office conducted a thorough investigation before making its decision.
“The team of prosecutors in my office along with the Missouri Highway Patrol, we have exhausted every potential lead we could find,” said Baker.
The case is based on the accusation Greitens took and transmitted a nonconsensual photo of a woman in a state of undress and then threatened to distribute the photo if the woman talked about the encounter.
The media first reported the alleged misconduct by Greitens when the woman’s ex-husband supplied a St. Louis TV station with a secret recording he made of the woman describing her experience with Greitens to him.
Shortly after Prosecutor Baker’s announcement, the woman’s attorney, Scott Simpson released a statement thanking her supporters while slamming her ex-husband for “selling her private story for a six-figure payout”.
Simpson said, “The most intimate details of her life were made public by a vengeful ex-husband and second man willing to spend millions of dollars spreading lies about her in an effort to save his political career.” Simpson was presumably referring to Greitens as the second man.
During her press conference, Baker expressed displeasure with the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s office for failing to provides all the documents in the case.
Baker said a forensic expert’s examination of Greitens’ cell phone in April yielded 31,000 files that her office was never provided with.
“I cannot begin to express my level of frustration in simply trying to get potential evidence,” said Baker.
The case originated in St. Louis, where the alleged encounter between Greitens and the woman took place. The charge of felony invasion of privacy was dropped when Judge Rex Burlison ruled that Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner could be called as a witness by the defense.
The defense had accused private investigator William Tisaby of perjury and Gardner of having knowledge of Tisaby’s breach and failing to take action. Burlison appointed Baker as a special prosecutor when he issued an order barring Gardner’s office from handling the case.
Gardner and her office were released from any civil liability in the case through an agreement Greitens’ defense attorneys made with her to drop a separate criminal charge in exchange for his resignation from office. Greitens was charged with felony computer tampering in that case for allegedly obtaining a donor list from his former charity without consent and using it for campaign purposes.
Criminal charges against Greitens could be exhausted with Baker’s Friday announcement not to pursue the invasion of privacy charge. One of the stipulations to drop the computer tampering charge in St. Louis stated that it would not be re-filed by the circuit attorney.
Another stipulation required Greitens to acknowledge that the prosecution had evidence to move forward. That stipulation was released this week after first being sealed when the agreement was originally made public.
Greitens also faces a lawsuit over the use of an app that erases text messages by himself and his office when he was governor. Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem has set a June 19th court date to hear arguments on whether or not to require the Office of the Governor to answer questions about the use of the app.
In addition, a House committee that’s been seeking documents from Greitens dark money non-profit organization has dropped its demand for now. Mark Kempton, who’s representing the committee, filed the motion late Wednesday saying the panel is dropping its lawsuit at this time but reserves the right to refile one at a later date.
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