Missouri House forms panel to investigate Gov. Greitens

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Missouri House formed a special panel of seven lawmakers on Monday to investigate Gov. Eric Greitens following an invasion-of-privacy charge alleging he took a nonconsensual photo of a woman in a compromising position.

The committee, which will have subpoena powers, will determine whether to initiate impeachment proceedings against the Republican governor to try to remove him from office. Its work will be separate from the criminal proceedings in St. Louis.

Committee Chairman Jay Barnes pledged a “fair, thorough and timely” investigation “without any pre-ordained results.”

“Our focus is going to be on the underlying facts of the indictment and the circumstances surrounding it,” said Barnes, a Jefferson City attorney.

An indictment handed down Thursday alleges Greitens took a photo of a woman “in a state of full or partial nudity” without her consent and transmitted it in a way that allowed access by a computer. The alleged incident occurred in March 2015, as Greitens was preparing to run for governor.

Greitens has acknowledged having an affair in 2015 with his former hairdresser but hasn’t directly answered questions about whether he bound the woman’s hands, blindfolded her and took a photo while warning her to remain silent about their sexual encounter — as the woman alleged in a conversation that her then-husband secretly recorded.

In court Monday, St. Louis prosecutors told a judge that the investigation could broaden to include matters beyond the allegations of invasion of privacy, but did not elaborate. That claim, during a hearing that was not on the St. Louis Circuit Court docket, drew an angry response from Greitens’ legal team, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

“Once you have an indictment, that’s it,” said Jack Garvey, a former judge and member of Greitens’ defense team.

Circuit Judge Rex Burlison set a tentative trial date of May 14. But a spokeswoman for St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner said the office will continue to push for a later trial.

Greitens’ attorneys have requested that the indictment be dismissed.

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