Ex-wife of Missouri Senate candidate Eric Greitens accuses him of abuse

The former wife of Eric Greitens, a leading Republican nominee for the US Senate in Missouri, has accused him of physically abusing her and one of their sons in an affidavit that could have serious ramifications in the race for the seat of senator. Roy Blunt. who is retiring.

Greitens, whose campaign denied the allegations Monday, abruptly resigned as governor in 2018 amid a whirlwind scandal involving a sexual relationship with his former hairdresser and allegations that he had taken an explicit photo of her without her consent. He was also accused by prosecutors of misusing his charity’s donor list for political purposes.

But until the latest revelation, his attempt at a political comeback seemed implausibly successful, despite attempts by the Republican establishment in Missouri to block it. Mr. Greitens, 47, a former Navy SEAL, had fully aligned himself with former President Donald J. Trump, cheering anti-vaccine and anti-mask protesters and rising to the lead in a crowded Republican primary for a key Senate open seat.

He is now facing fresh calls from his opponents to drop out or else he will win a trusty red seat in November.

Missouri Representative Vicky Hartzler, who is running against Mr. Greitens in the Republican primary and has received support from many top state officials, in a statement accused Mr. Greitens of “a pattern of criminal behavior that makes Eric unfit to be a ​to hold public office.”

“He should immediately step out of the US Senate race,” she said.

Missouri Republican Senator Josh Hawley, who as Attorney General of the state in 2018 pressured Mr. Greitens to step down as governor, wrote on Twitter“If you hit a woman or a child, you belong in handcuffs, not the United States Senate.”

As part of an ongoing child custody dispute, the affidavit of Sheena Chestnut Greitens, 39, a public policy professor at the University of Texas at Austin, accused Mr. Greitens of physical abuse and “unstable and coercive behavior” . The 41-page affidavit, filed Monday in Missouri’s Boone County Circuit Court, said Mr Greitens had turned increasingly violent in 2018 as his sex scandal threatened to end a once-promising political turnout he hoped would him to the White House.

“Before our divorce, during an argument in late April 2018, Eric knocked me down and confiscated my cellphone, wallet and keys, leaving me unable to call for help or free myself and our children from our home,” wrote dr. Greitens. , who has two young sons with Mr Greitens and whose divorce from him became final in May 2020.

She added that his “behaviour included physical violence towards our children, such as handcuffing our then 3-year-old son at the dinner table in front of me and pulling him around by his hair.”

In a statement on Monday, Mr Greitens’ campaign denied the charges and said they were politically motivated. The statement said that Dr. Greitens “was engaged in a last-ditch effort to vengefully destroy her ex-husband.”

Mr Greitens later issued a personal statement saying he would continue to “fight for the truth and against completely fabricated, baseless accusations”.

A lawyer for Dr Greitens did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Monday.

Greitens’ lead in the polls has baffled other Republicans in Missouri, as the 2018 investigation into Mr. Greitens was led by Republicans and the impending impeachment process was allegedly carried out by the Republican-controlled legislature.

In 2018, Mr Greitens’ former hairdresser described an alarming sexual encounter in which he allegedly took a photo of her and threatened to share it if she told anyone about their affair.

In her affidavit, Dr. Greitens that her husband had bought a gun, but refused to tell her where he hid it. She said he had threatened to kill himself “unless I give him specific public political support” despite allegations of infidelity she admitted she admitted, even saying he threatened her with legal action if she revealed that confession. .

Mr. Greitens is one of several Republican candidates who have aligned themselves with Mr. Trump and who have raised concerns among top party leaders in Washington, though the former president has not yet approved anyone in the Missouri race.

In November, Sean Parnell, a Trump-approved candidate for the Pennsylvania Senate seat who was vacated by Republican Patrick J. Toomey, dropped out of that contest after a judge ruled in favor of his estranged wife in a custody battle that also included charges. were involved. of abuse.

In December, another Trump-backed Senate candidate, former Georgia professional soccer player Herschel Walker, told Axios that he was “responsible” for past violent behavior toward his former wife, Cindy Grossman. However, his campaign said he still denied allegations made by two other women who said he had engaged in threatening behavior towards them.

Hannah Norton contributed to the reporting.

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