Political, legal experts outline impact new abuse allegations could have on Eric Greitens

Published: Mar. 22, 2022 at 5:32 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - While several of Eric Greitens’ political opponents and fellow Republicans call for him to drop out of his bid for U.S. Senate, News 4 is asking experts what this could mean for him politically and legally.

“It is definitely not going to help him, it might persuade a few voters not to vote for him,” said St. Louis University’s Ken Warren. He told News 4 the allegations by Sheena Greitens could shake up the Senate race after polls gave Eric Greitens an edge in the primary. “Overall, these new charges do not make it better for Eric Greitens entering the primary in August.”

A signed affidavit filed by Sheena Greitens in an ongoing child custody case states Former Governor Eric Greitens committed domestic violence, both before and after he left office in 2018. The couple divorced in 2020. In one part, Sheena Greitens wrote that during an argument in late April 2018, “Eric knocked me down and confiscated my cell phone, wallet and keys so that I was unable to call for help or extricate myself and our children from our home.” She also details alleged physical violence towards their children, including “cuffing our then 3-year-old son across the face at the dinner table in front of me and yanking him around by his hair.”

Monday night, Eric Greitens told Steve Bannon the allegations were baseless. “My most important job is being a great father to my boys, and we found out, we just learned that my ex-wife was in Washington, DC meeting with political operatives,” he said.

In a statement Tuesday, Sheena Greitens said she stands by her sworn statement and that she did not discuss it with anyone other than her counsel. She also said her only interest is what’s best for her two children.

Saint Louis University's Ken Warren told News 4 that the new allegations against the former governor doesn't mean he will drop out of the U.S. Senate race.

Warren told News 4 that voters will have to decide for themselves. “I would say you cannot count out Eric Greitens, especially when voters seem to have a new moral compass that guides them and they don’t seem too shaken by this,” he said.

Because the primary isn’t until August some voters may forget the allegations, according to Warren. Though he said there is no doubt they will be used in political advertising.

A former prosecutor, now defense attorney, who has studied criminal law in Missouri told News 4 new legal trouble could be in store for Eric Greitens depending on certain details. Attorney Kristi Flint carefully reviewed the affidavit which details the allegations.

“We would be looking at a charge of child abuse, and in Missouri that is a Class D felony that carries a range of punishment of one to seven years, and if convicted you have to serve one year,” explained Flint. She said the instance that allegedly happened recently is enough to press charges but other actions described by Sheena Greitens happened while he was still governor, meaning the statute of limitations would have passed.

For charges to be possible, Sheena Greitens and her children would have to participate in a criminal case. Also at issue is where the actions allegedly occurred and who would investigate. News 4 checked with the Warren County sheriff since the Greitens family resided in Innsbrook and he said he was not aware of any criminal complaint filed. Still, Flint said the affidavit raises more questions and could be investigated further.