Former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens is facing new allegations that he physically abused his ex-wife and children, and that in the months before his resignation became so unstable that his access to firearms had to be limited.
The accusations are included in a sworn affidavit filed by former Missouri First Lady Sheena Greitens as part of an ongoing child custody dispute. She sought a divorce from Eric Greitens in 2020 and is asking a court to move the child custody case to Austin, Texas, where she is currently a professor at the University of Texas.
The affidavit was first reported Monday by The Associated Press.
Greitens’ “unstable and coercive” behavior included physical violence to the couple’s children, “such as cuffing our then three-year-old son across the face at the dinner table in front of me and yanking him around by his hair,” the affidavit states.
In November 2019, the affidavit states that their son Joshua came home from a visit with Eric Greitens with a swollen face, bleeding gums and a loose tooth and said his father had hit him. The affidavit states Greitens said it was an accident after roughhousing.
“Due to the trauma, the tooth died, eventually abscessed, and had to be surgically removed in May 2020,” the affidavit reads.
In the spring and early summer of 2018, Sheena Greitens also said her ex-husband repeatedly threatened to commit suicide unless she showed “specific public political support” for him. As a result, she and others were so concerned they limited his access to firearms on at least three occasions that year. She said Eric Greitens refused to reveal the location of his firearm, saying she wasn’t “being sufficiently ‘cooperative.’”
“I started sleeping in my children’s room simply to try to keep them safe,” Sheena Greitens said in the affidavit.
In response to the affidavit, Dylan Johnson, Greitens’ campaign manager, released a statement denying the allegations of physical abuse, saying the former governor is a “great Dad” and accusing the former Missouri First Lady of “emotionally-abusive behavior.”
“One of the documented reasons Eric sought a divorce from Sheena was because of her constant threats to lie about him, which she made repeatedly over many years, in the belief that the press would believe anything that she said,” Johnson said.
“Eric will fight for his children and defend himself from these outright lies,” Johnson said.
Neither Sheena Greitens nor her attorney, Helen Wade, could be immediately reached for comment on the former governor’s accusations or the affidavit made public Monday.
The new accusations come as Eric Greitens attempts a political comeback, launching a bid last year to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt. But he continues to be dogged by the allegations of violent sexual misconduct that drove him from the governor’s office in 2018.
The list of scandals that forced Greitens from the Missouri governor’s office in 2018 is long and varied.
He was accused of violent sexual misconduct during a 2015 affair, including allegations he led a woman down to his basement, taped her hands to pull-up rings, blindfolded her, spit water into her mouth, ripped open her shirt, pulled down her pants and took a photo without her consent.
The felony charge that stemmed from that allegation was eventually dropped by Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker, who cited statutes of limitation that had or were about to pass and potentially missing evidence.
Greitens also was accused of stealing a donor list from a veteran’s charity he founded in order to boost his political career — a felony charge that was dropped as part of a plea deal that stipulated prosecutors had “sufficient evidence” to bring his case to trial.
Before his resignation, the Republican-dominated Missouri General Assembly was set to impeach him and remove him from office. An ethics complaint filed by the lawmaker who led the impeachment effort resulted in one of the largest fines in the history of the Missouri Ethics Commission — a $178,000 hit to Greitens’ campaign committee for violating state law.
The ethics commission concluded, however, that there was no evidence Greitens was involved in the wrongdoing.
Greitens hoped to return to the Navy following his resignation. But neither the Navy, nor the elite Navy SEALs, wanted him back. It was only after intervention from the office of then Vice President Mike Pence that Greitens was allowed to return to the Navy as a reservist.
Since his reemergence in Missouri politics last year, when he launched his Senate bid, many Republicans have publicly fretted that Greitens could win in a crowded GOP primary but ultimately lose the seat to a Democrat in November because of his scandal-plagued history.
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