Lurid Report Details Alleged Sexual Assault by Missouri Governor Eric Greitens

Eric Greitens is still the governor of Missouri. But nobody is talking about the former U.S. Navy SEAL and Rhodes Scholar as a likely Republican presidential hopeful anymore. If anything remains impressive about Greitens's political career, it is that such a career still exists.

On Wednesday — one day after Greitens turned 44 — a Special Investigative Committee on Oversight of the Missouri House of Representatives released a report of an extramarital affair Greitens conducted with a hair stylist in 2015, before he was gubernatorial candidate. That affair culminated with Greitens allegedly threatening the woman with blackmail after taking a compromising photo of her on his phone. Charged with felony invasion of privacy, Greitens is to stand trial next month in St. Louis Circuit Court.

The 24-page report report released on Wednesday filled in many of the details that had been missing since the story was first reported by a local television affiliate almost exactly three months ago, on the same evening that Greitens delivered his State of the State address. Most of those details — many of them lurid, some of them troubling — appear to undermine the insistence on innocence Greitens and his lawyers have maintained.

The report says that the woman began cutting Greitens's hair in 2013. She told the committee that she "thought he was this perfect guy." That was by apparent design. "I knew that he was an author," she continued. "I knew he was a motivational speaker, I knew he was a Navy SEAL. I knew he had volunteered at the Mother Theresa House...I don't want to say that he was speaking highly of himself, but he found a way to tell me these things, and so I just thought he was wonderful."

Their relationship began after a March 7, 2015, hair-styling appointment, during which Greitens allegedly touched the woman in her genital area. Although the woman admits to having had a "crush" on Greitens, the report indicates that she did not consent to his touching her in this manner.

They had intermittent contact in the days that followed and began their sexual affair on March 21, when Greitens's wife Sheena happened to be away. Upon entering the future governor's house that morning, the woman was surprised that Greitens had her change into exercise clothes.

According to the report — for which Greitens declined to provide testimony — the woman "testified that she would not have been 'okay with a normal sexual encounter with him if he said, "Hey I just want to have sex in the basement."'"

That was not, in fact, what Greitens allegedly had in mind. Instead, he led her down into the basement, where she imagined he was about to lead her through a "sexy workout."

But that wasn't quite it, either.

"Upon entering the basement, [the woman] testified that Greitens taped her hands to pull-up rings with 'this gauzed tape stuff' and then put a blindfold on her. [The woman] testified that these items were laying on a 'workout bench right there, and that's where he had that stuff.'"

It is at this critical point that, according to the woman's allegations, Greitens took the potentially incriminating photograph of her. "I hear him kind of, like, step back – take a step back and I hear – I can hear like a, like a cell phone – like a picture, and I can see a flash through the blindfold," she testified.

However, she also admitted that she did not see him actually take a photograph, and that she may have been "remembering it through a dream," though it is not clear what she meant by that. Supporters of Greitens have seized on this phrase to claim that the woman's charges are without merit. The report's authors acknowledge that the "committee does not possess any physical or electronic evidence of a photograph or its transmission."

The woman alleges that after Greitens took the photograph, he made clear his purpose for doing so: "You're not going to mention my name. Don't even mention my name to anybody at all, because if you do, I'm going to take these pictures, and I'm going to put them everywhere I can. They are going to be everywhere, and then everyone will know what a little whore you are."

In her remarkably frank testimony, the woman explains her thoughts in those moments as she came to believe she could be blackmailed: "I just stood there, because I was like 'What the fuck? He doesn't have feelings for me, he just wants to fuck me...This is the most embarrassing thing that's ever happened to me.'" After that, Greitens allegedly spanked the woman while calling her a "good girl," presumably because she understood that they'd have to keep their relationship secret.

After expressing her discomfort with the situation, the woman tried to leave the basement, but she alleges that Greitens pulled her into a "bear hug," so that she was now lying on the basement floor, crying, with Greitens attempting to reassure her. She alleges that he subsequently made clear that he wanted oral sex. She told the committee that while she didn't feel forced, she believed herself to have been coerced into the act. After performing oral sex on Greitens, she was able to leave.

She returned to the Greitens resident at the end of the workday, around 4 p.m., because she had forgotten her keys there (he had allegedly searched her bag when she'd first entered his house that morning). She told Greitens that she was "really angry" with him, according to her testimony. She says that as they spoke, Greitens told her, "I'm running for office, and people will get me, and I have to have some sort of thing to protect myself. And I thought about you, though, and I felt bad, so I erased it." She did not believe that he had done so, but appreciated his seeming awareness that the morning's encounter had gone badly.

The woman told three people about the encounter, including her husband, from whom she has since divorced. The ex-husband testified to the committee that he told his then-wife, "You've been half-raped and blackmailed." She agreed with that description of what had transpired.

The report says that Greitens and the woman had several more encounters, including at her salon and in his house. During a meeting at the Greitens home, he became enraged to learn that the woman had engaged in sexual activity with her husband. She alleges that Greitens then slapped her. "It wasn't sweet and gentle; it was forceful," she told the House committee.

The two had one more exchange, again at the Greitens home. "We were in a position that would have been as if we were having sex... and out of nowhere, [he] just, like, kind of smacked me and grabbed me and shoved me down on the ground."

Though the alleged violence was not new, it once again left the woman stunned. "What is wrong with you?" she asked, according to the report.

Greitens has admitted to the affair, but has denied all allegations. Shorty before the House report was released, Greitens described his plight as "a political witch hunt" and attempted to align himself with President Trump, who is under investigation by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III for obstruction of justice and potential involvement with Russian electoral meddling. "This is exactly like what's happening with the witch hunts in Washington, D.C," Greitens said.

The scandal has hounded him for months, with the onetime ascendant young Republican facing calls to resign from within his own party. Yet he has maintained that he did nothing illegal. "There was no photograph for blackmail," Greitens said in January. "There was no threat of using a photograph for blackmail. There was no threat of violence." That careful construction, however, leaves open that such a photograph could have existed.

Calls for Greitens to step down have only been amplified by the #MeToo movement, which seeks to hold powerful men accountable for sexual misconduct. "For the good of the state, Eric Greitens must immediately resign," said Democratic House Minority Leader Rep. Gail McCann Beatty.

"I'm overwhelmed with sadness for the state," said Rep. Jean Evans, a Republican.

Greitens is also under investigation for using his philanthropic foundation for campaign-related purposes. His trial on felony invasion of privacy charges begins on May 14.