Associated Press

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) – Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens acknowledges he was “unfaithful” in his marriage, but denies allegations that he blackmailed the woman he had an extramarital affair with to stay quiet.

The Republican governor and his wife released a statement Wednesday night. It came after St. Louis television station KMOV reported that Greitens had a sexual relationship with his former hairdresser in 2015.

jcp2017010911 Gov. Greitens Acknowledges Affair, Denies Blackmail Allegations

Missouri Governor-elect Eric Greitens and his wife Sheena wait for the church bells to toll 12 noon on the steps the state capitol in Jefferson City, Missouri on January 9, 2017. Greitens becomes Missouri’s 56th Governor. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI

The station reported that the woman’s ex-husband alleged Greitens photographed her nude and threatened to publicize the images if she spoke about the affair.

The woman allegedly involved did not comment on the record to the station, which released its report late Wednesday after Greitens gave his State of the State speech. But her ex-husband provided a recording of her detailing a sexual encounter with Greitens and saying Greitens told her the photos would be released if she exposed the affair. She did not know she was being recorded.

The alleged March 2015 encounter came after Greitens opened a committee to explore a bid for Missouri governor but before he officially announced his candidacy. She says on the tape that he invited her downstairs at his home because he wanted to show her “how to do a proper pull-up.”

She says: “I knew he was being sexual and I still let him. 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 says she later realized he took a photo of her.

“I saw a flash through the blindfold and he said: `You’re never going to mention my name.'”

Greitens’ statement with his wife, Sheena, didn’t address the affair specifically or the allegations, but in a separate statement Greitens’ attorney, Jim Bennett, said, “There was no blackmail and that claim is false.”

Greitens, a first-time candidate, rose to office in the same November 2016 election that brought President Donald Trump to power. His campaign capitalized on his military service as a Navy SEAL, his work as founder of a veterans’ charity “and most importantly, a proud husband and father.” The Greitens married in 2011 and have two young sons.

The governor and his wife released the following statement:

“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. While we never would have wished for this pain in our marriage, or the pain that this has caused others, with God’s mercy Sheena has forgiven and we have emerged stronger. 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.”

Sheena Greitens added:

“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.”

The ex-husband told KMOV that law enforcement had been in touch, and Al Watkins, an attorney for the ex-husband, backed up his client’s claim.

“My knowledge and my experience leads me to believe that at least, there is an elevated degree of interest in what is going on,” Watkins said.

But Bennett outright denied that the authorities are involved.

“The claim that this nearly three-year old story has generated or should generate law enforcement interest is completely false,” he said.

Watkins said his client and the woman who allegedly had an affair with Greitens said the couple tried to reconcile after the March 2015 incident but that the relationship with Greitens continued for several months and caused their breakup.

The ex-husband told KMOV that he believed the story would eventually be made public and he wanted to protect his family

(© Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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