Governor Indicted for Invasion of Privacy

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Apr 14, 2018

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Invasion of Privacy Missouri Governor Eric Greitens, 43, has been indicted on a felony charge of invasion of privacy and is facing calls to resign.

As the New York Times reports, Greitens, a first-term Republican, former Navy Seal, and Rhodes scholar, is accused of  “photographing a nude or partially nude person without the person’s knowledge or consent in 2015.”

The alleged photo was transmitted so that it could be viewed via a computer, which makes the offense a felony rather than a misdemeanor.

The Affair

Greitens acknowledged having an extramarital affair in 2015 with the woman — Greitens’ former hairdresser — who is the subject of the alleged photo.

A St. Louis television station reported that Greitens threatened to use the photo to embarrass the woman if she revealed their relationship.

The report was based on an audio recording that the station obtained from the woman’s ex-husband.

Special Report

According to a 24-page special investigative report by the Missouri House. Greitens “blindfolded and bound a woman to exercise equipment, spanked her, and tried to kiss her without her consent.”

He then allegedly took the photo while she was taped to the equipment. The House report states that the committee that prepared it has no evidence of the actual photo.

Greitens called the report “tabloid trash, gossip.” His lawyer has argued that the Missouri invasion of privacy law is intended to prohibit the activities of peeping toms and doesn’t apply in his case.

Tanning Salon

As the Times reported, Missouri lawmakers made invasion of privacy a felony after a tanning salon owner in a rural community was caught using a hidden camera to take pictures of naked women who patronized the salon.

According to the Times,

The law makes it a felony to knowingly photograph or film a nude person without consent in a place where they would reasonably expect privacy, and to then distribute that recording or transmit it so it could be seen on a computer.

Invasion of Privacy

Most states have some form of invasion of privacy law. Invasion of privacy can also be a tort (civil wrong) in addition to a crime.

Typically, the tort of invasion of privacy involves:

  • an intrusion into private affairs (not necessarily of a sexual nature),
  • disclosure of private information,
  • putting someone in a false light, or
  • using someone’s image for personal gain.

A number of states have passed laws specifically against “revenge porn,” making it illegal to share naked photos without the subject’s permission. Missouri is one of 12 states that doesn’t have such a law.

As I wrote in this blog, some victims are also using copyright law to fight revenge porn — but that only applies when the victim took the photos and they were used without his or her consent.

As I wrote in another post, revenge porn sites are also under attack by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Greitens is scheduled to go on trial in May on the felony charges.

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