January 11, 2018 10:50 AM

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, a Republican who has emphasized his devotion to his wife and family, admitted to an extramarital affair Wednesday night, but through his lawyer denied a claim that he used nude photos to blackmail his mistress.

KMOV published a report exposing Greitens’ infidelity with his former hairstylist after a months-long investigation on Wednesday, just hours after his second State of the State speech. Greitens and his wife, Sheena, confirmed the affair in a joint statement.

“A few years ago, before Eric was elected Governor, there was a time when he was unfaithful in our marriage,” the statement began. “This was a deeply personal mistake. Eric took responsibility, and we dealt with this together honestly and privately. While we never would have wished for this pain in our marriage, or the pain that this has caused others, with God’s mercy Sheena has forgiven and we have emerged stronger. We understand that there will be some people who cannot forgive — but for those who can find it in your heart, Eric asks for your forgiveness, and we are grateful for your love, your compassion, and your prayers.”

Eric Greitens with wife Sheena
Jeff Roberson/AP/REX/Shutterstock

The statement from the spouses didn’t address the allegation that Greitens took a compromising photograph of the woman and threatened to publicize it if she exposed him.

According to KMOV, the news station received a recording from the hairdresser’s ex-husband in which the woman can be heard talking about the governor’s attempt to blackmail her with nude photos he took after allegedly taping her hands to rings while purportedly trying to show her how to do a proper pull-up.

“He stepped back, I saw a flash through the blindfold and he said: ‘you’re never going to mention my name, otherwise there will be pictures of me everywhere,” the woman can be heard saying on the tape, per KMOV.

The station reports that the woman did not know she was being recorded, and an attorney for the unnamed woman responded with a “no comment” when contacted by KMOV.

Greitens’ attorney, James F. Bennett, denied the claim.

“There was no blackmail, and that claim is false,” Bennett said. “This personal matter has been addressed by the Governor and Mrs. Greitens privately years ago when it happened. The outrageous claims of improper conduct regarding these almost three-year-ago events are false.”

Greitens, a former Navy SEAL who served in Iraq, billed himself as a family man during his campaign for governor in 2016. He and his wife married in 2011 and have two children.

“We have a loving marriage and an awesome family; anything beyond that is between us and God,” said Sheena in an additional statement. “I want the media and those who wish to peddle gossip to stay away from me and my children.”

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