KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker revealed on Friday that she is declining to press further charges in an invasion of privacy case against former Missouri governor Eric Greitens.
Peters Baker the woman at the center of the case was credible, but "the clock ran out" on the statute of limitations and her office did not have sufficient evidence to consider filing new charges in the Greitens case. She said that corroborating evidence for an invasion of privacy case was missing.
Scott Rosenblum, defense attorney for Greitens, released a statement on Peters Baker's decision not to charge his client: “It’s certainly doesn’t surprise me that there are not going to be any charges. I never believed the accuser’s story was credible.”
Rosenblum said he has no idea what’s next for his client. “I think he’s going to take time with his family," he said.
At an emotional news conference Friday afternoon, Peters Baker vehemently defended the woman whose 2015 affair with Greitens spurred the charges. She said she believes the woman was telling the truth.
“This victim helped inform my decision with her words, and they still weight heavily on me today as I stand in front of you," Peters Baker said.
Without proof of a photo, the case rested on the victim's testimony alone, and the woman did not want to carry that burden, the prosecutor said.
“In the words of this victim, 'My heart just can’t bear it,'” Peters Baker said Friday.
Additionally, Peters Baker was critical of the defense team's questioning of that woman, citing some of the questions they asked about her body.
“This is from defense lawyers, and these are not my words: 'Who did your boobs? Do you have a belly ring? Are your nipples pierced? Are you a liar?' And I wish that had only been asked once or twice, but I lost count -- quite literally lost count about the number of times she was peppered with being a liar in her deposition," the Jackson County prosecutor said.
Baker revealed more about her office's decision. Watch the full news conference in the video below or a recap in the video above.
Both Peters Baker and the woman involved in the affair with Greitens said they hopes other women "in similar situations" are not discouraged by a criminal process that ultimately ended with no criminal charge.
"I have a message to other victims of similar crimes: Please know this, the doors to this courthouse and the courthouse in the state of Missouri are open to you," Peters Baker said. "We want to hear form you. Even when we can not prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt, we want to hear from you. In fact we need to hear from you."
Greitens, a 44-year-old former Navy SEAL officer, resigned June 1 amid investigations into whether he took a photo of his former lover without her permission while she was blindfolded and at least partially nude, and whether he illegally used a donor email list from a charity he founded to raise money for his campaign. Legislators were also discussing whether to seek his impeachment.
Peters Baker was tasked with deciding whether to file the felony invasion of privacy charge stemming from the alleged photo after St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner unexpectedly dismissed the case. Greitens' attorneys argued that a private investigator Gardner hired to look into Greitens had committed perjury and withheld evidence. The judge last month granted their request to call Gardner as a witness, which Gardner said left her with no choice but to dismiss the charge and turn it over to a special prosecutor.
In exchange for Greitens' resignation, Gardner last week dropped the charge pertaining to the charity's email list.
After Peters Baker's announcement Friday, Gardner released a statement via Twitter:
"I commend Ms. Peters-Baker for her gutsy decision to review the invasion case involving Eric Greitens, despite all of the mischaracterizations and attacks of those involved. I stand by my original decision to charge this case, and I respect Ms. Baker’s decision today."
Greitens' troubles began in January. On the night he delivered his State of the State, St. Louis station KMOV-TV reported that he had an affair in 2015 with his hairdresser. Greitens admitted to the affair shortly after the news broke.
Gardner launched an investigation, leading to the grand jury indictment a month later. Greitens denied criminal wrongdoing and blamed Gardner, a Democrat, calling her a "reckless liberal prosecutor."
The woman testified to a special Missouri House committee that Greitens bound her hands to exercise equipment, blindfolded her and removed her clothes before she saw a flash and heard what sounded like the click of a cellphone camera. She has said Greitens threatened to disseminate the photo if she spoke of their encounter but later told her he had deleted it.
Greitens' attorneys have said that St. Louis prosecutors had stopped searching for evidence of the compromising photo after failing to find it on Greitens' cellphone or in cloud storage. However, the former governor repeatedly declined to answer media questions about the photo.
The House committee's report released in April also included the woman's testimony alleging that Greitens had restrained, slapped, shoved, threatened and belittled her during a series of sexual encounters that at times left her crying and afraid. Greitens didn't testify before the committee.