Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens admitted late Wednesday that he had been “unfaithful” in his marriage after a St. Louis television station reported that he had an affair before he became governor and that he allegedly threatened to blackmail the woman about their sexual encounter.
“A few years ago, before Eric was elected Governor, there was a time when he was unfaithful in our marriage,” Greitens and his wife, Sheena, said in a joint statement. “This was a deeply personal mistake. Eric took responsibility, and we dealt with this together honestly and privately.”
“While we would never 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 couple 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.”
Greitens, a Republican, denied through his attorney, James Bennett, that he had tried to blackmail the woman to keep her quiet. Bennett said there were multiple false allegations in the TV station’s report.
“There was no blackmail and that claim is false,” Bennett said in a separate statement.
The statements from the Greitenses and Bennett came after KMOV-TV reported, following a months-long investigation, that the governor had had a sexual encounter with his former hairdresser in 2015, the year before he was elected.
The allegations were made to KMOV-TV by the woman’s ex-husband, who said Greitens took a photo of her during their sexual encounters and threatened to share them if she ever went public with news of their affair.
KMOV-TV has not named the woman, who did not confirm the affair to the station.
The woman’s ex-husband, who was also not named by KMOV-TV, provided an audio recording to the station on which his then-wife reveals she had a sexual encounter with Greitens in March 2015 at his St. Louis home.
In the recording, KMOV-TV reported, the woman says that Greitens told her that she if were to speak about the encounter, he would distribute a photo of her. On the recording, the woman also says that Greitens apologized and said he’d deleted the photograph of her, according to the station.
NBC News has not listened to the recording and has not verified its authenticity.
According to KMOV-TV, the woman did not know her husband at the time was recording her conversation with Greitens. The recording reportedly occurred days after the woman’s first sexual encounter with Greitens, KMOV-TV reported.