Jenee Osterheldt: Revenge porn is the real issue in the Greitens scandal, not his affair

JeneƩ Osterheldt, The Kansas City Star on

Published in Op Eds

I don't care that Gov. Eric Greitens had an affair. He admitted to it. His wife forgave him. They moved on a long time ago.

But the unforgivable, despicable part of this drama is the allegation that Greitens basically used revenge porn against his side-chick.

The woman, who has yet to go on the record, confessed to her then-husband. He recorded the conversation and recently gave the tape to St. Louis CBS affiliate KMOV, which aired it Wednesday night. She was his hairstylist. She says he invited her to his home, took her down to the basement and taped her hands to exercise equipment. And then, she says, he blindfolded her and took a nude photo, warning her to never mention his name.

If it's true, this is an abuse of trust, power and basic human decency.

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley's office has said it lacks jurisdiction to investigate his fellow Republican. So St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner, a Democrat, took the first step by announcing Thursday that her office would launch an investigation.

"The only way we can remove this cloud is to get all the facts," said Sen. Gary Romine, a Republican from Farmington, south of St. Louis. "We need this to move as quickly as possible. If it exonerates him, we can move on. If it doesn't, he needs to resign or face impeachment."

Agreed. Let's open the basement door and get to the facts about his possible misogyny and manipulation instead of sending our love and prayers to the governor's wife, Sheena Greitens.

She released her own statement, declaring her "loving marriage and an awesome family. Anything beyond that is between us and God." And she's right. She forgave her man just like Beyonce forgave Jay Z. Even Hillary forgave Bill. Nothing wrong with that.

Except this isn't about you, Sheena.

What about the other woman, who may have been tricked into a nude photo and threatened with it? What about the woman who wasn't just victimized by the governor but was also betrayed by her ex-husband, who took her taped confession to the press? Two men taking her choices away.

The governor, whose campaign was all about family values, denies blackmail. But he hasn't specifically addressed the basement, restricting her hands, blindfolding her and taking a photo.

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"The claim that this nearly three-year old story has generated or should generate law enforcement interest is completely false. There was no blackmail and that claim is false," James Bennett, an attorney for Greitens, said in a statement.

Wait one patriarchal minute. So because the governor says so, it isn't so? We should just skip the legal process altogether, huh? Because rape culture? No wonder congresswomen are planning to wear black to President Donald Trump's State of the Union address on Jan. 30.Time's up. We must bring the #MeToo movement to Capitol Hill. And Jefferson City.

We must hold elected officials accountable. Yes, this requires an investigation.

"Let's be clear -- violence and threats against women are never acceptable. Allegations of extortion, coercion, or threats of violence must be investigated by the proper authorities," Senate Democratic leaders Gina Walsh of St. Louis County and Kiki Curls of Kansas City said Thursday morning. "People accused of these egregious acts do not get to wave off the scrutiny of law enforcement simply because they are in a position of power; and victims of these crimes deserve our full support."

Having an awesome marriage and forgiving wife doesn't make you innocent. Family values don't shield you from the truth, boo. Let's take the blindfold off and see.

About The Writer

Jenee Osterheldt is a Kansas City Star culture columnist,@jeneeinkc.

(c)2018 The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Mo.)

Visit The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Mo.) at www.kansascity.com

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