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Missouri governor acknowledges affair; attorney refutes blackmail claims

By Susan McFarland
Missouri governor acknowledges affair; attorney refutes blackmail claims
Missouri Governor Eric Greitens, photoraphed with wife Sheena on May 2017 in St. Louis, has admitted on Wednesday to having a extramarital affair, but refuted a TV news story about a claim of blackmail. Greitens has been in office for one year. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 11 (UPI) -- Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens and his wife on Wednesday acknowledged an extramarital affair, but the governor's attorney denied allegations of blackmail that surfaced in a television news story.

The governor's statement late Wednesday followed a report by KMOV-TV that alleged Greitens took a compromising photograph of the woman and threatened to make it public if she exposed him.

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"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," Sheena Greitens said.

"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," the governor said. "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."

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The couple didn't address claims of blackmail, but attorney James Bennett refuted the allegations.

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"There was no blackmail, and that claim is false," Bennett said.

The KMOV report said the unidentified woman had told her husband about the affair and the blackmail, which she said happened in March 2015 -- and that the man had recorded the discussion and ultimately took it to the television station.

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The audio recording claims the woman, who'd been Greitens' hair stylist before he ran for governor in 2016, went to the governor's home and was blindfolded, bound to exercise equipment and undressed before a photo was taken.

In the recording, she said the encounter was consensual but said she was not aware a photo was taken until she saw a flash through the blindfold, followed by an alleged verbal threat by Greitens.

"This personal matter has been addressed by the governor and Mrs. Greitens privately years ago when it happened," Bennett said. "The outrageous claims of improper conduct regarding these almost three-year-ago events are false."

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