A St. Louis grand jury has indicted Missouri Governor Eric Greitens.
A judge said Greitens could be released on his own personal recognizance and is allowed to travel, according to Susan Ryan, a spokeswoman for the St. Louis Circuit Attorney's Office.
Last month, KMOV-TV in St. Louis aired a recording of the unidentified woman with whom Greitens admitted having the affair as she confessed the March 2015 encounter to her then-husband.
"With today's disappointing and misguided political decision, my confidence in our prosecutorial system is shaken, but not broken", Greitens said in a statement, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "Under Missouri law, the Grand Jury has found probably cause to believe that Governor Greitens violated Missouri State Statute 565.252, which was in place at the time of the violation". Greitens subsequently transmitted the image in a way to allow it to be accessible by computer, the indictment said. The charges against my client are baseless and unfounded. Both parties and the people of St. Louis deserve a thorough investigation of these allegations.
Greitens' legal team immediately filed a motion to dismiss the indictment, on grounds that any activity Greitens engaged in was "consensual".
The governor later admitted he had an affair in 2015 before he was elected to office, but he denied there was any blackmail and he didn't identify the woman.
The woman told her husband, who was secretly taping the conversation, that Greitens took the compromising photo of her at his home and threatened to use it as blackmail if she spoke about the affair.
Asked about the lobbyist's hire on Thursday, House Speaker Todd Richardson, a Poplar Bluff Republican, said he's not met with a lobbyist from the firm and would not "unless they want to talk about something other than that", referring to the criminal investigation of the governor. The woman allegedly involved did not comment on the record to the station, but her ex-husband provided an audio recording he made to KMOV in which a woman gives details about a sexual encounter.
It stems from a scandal that broke last month, in which Greitens was accused of threatening his lover with the photo - an allegation that isn't mentioned in the indictment.
Greitens emerged the victor in a crowded and expensive GOP primary before defeating the state's attorney general, Democrat Chris Koster, in the November 2016 election to give Republicans control of the governor's mansion for the first time in eight years.
House Minority Leader Gail Beatty (D-Kansas City) said Greitens should consider resigning.
"It will be extremely hard for the governor to effectively do his job with a felony indictment hanging over his head", she said.
This story is developing and will be updated.