Judge rules Eric Greitens did not engage in pattern of domestic violence, abuse of children
Ruling comes after millions of dollars' worth of ads aired publicizing ex-wife's claim, sinking former Missouri governor's political comeback.
A judge has ruled that former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens did not engage in a pattern of domestic violence or abuse his minor children, bringing an abrupt end to allegations from his ex-wife that fueled a multimillion-dollar political ad campaign that sank Greitens' political comeback last month.
"The Court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that there has been no pattern of domestic violence by either Mother or Father," Boone County Circuit Judge Leslie Schneider wrote in a decision dated Aug. 26 that was reviewed by Just the News. "The children have never been at risk or vulnerable at the hands of either parent."
The court has not yet made the ruling public.
A lawyer for Sheena Greitens did not return a call seeking comment. Eric Greitens declined comment on the judicial opinion exonerating him from his ex-wife's allegations.
Schneider's decision provided an anticlimactic end to a normally private divorce dispute that spilled into public and was exploited by a negative political ad campaign. The political drama began when Sheena Greitens' March 21 affidavit alleging her ex-husband abused her and their two boys was made public in the spring.
At the time, Eric Greitens had been leading for months in the GOP primary race for the U.S. Senate nomination, as he waged a comeback from a 2018 sex scandal that derailed his career as governor.
The former governor vehemently denied the abuse allegations, but Missouri news media aired them for months while the case played out in private. Establishment Republicans like Karl Rove and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell put their muscle into defeating Greitens as outside groups poured millions into negative ads using the abuse allegations.
One Super PAC alone called the Show Me Values PAC reported spending nearly $8 million on ads trying to defeat Greitens. One of their ads featured a woman reading Sheena Greitens' affidavit aloud.
Eric Greitens, a retired Navy SEAL, created some controversy of his own by airing an ad less than a month after the Uvalde school shooting in which he carried a gun and claimed he was going "RINO hunting" to eliminate moderates known as Republicans in Name Only.
The ad campaigns had a profound effect in the final days of the race, as Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt rallied to win the GOP Senate nomination on Aug. 2 and Greitens slipped to a third-place finish.
The judge in the domestic case continued her investigation in private as Sheena and Eric Greitens took to social media and television to air their allegations.
Schneider ultimately came to a decision three weeks after the primary, ruling it would be better for the child custody case to move to Texas in the future as Sheena Greitens had requested. The judge's reasoning cited the notoriety the affidavit had generated since Missouri court records are open, saying Texas and its history of keeping family court matters secret would better protect the couple's two children.
"The proclivity to share privileged or private communications on social media, and in interviews with the press, presents a possible future risk of harm to the children which may impact their best interests," Schneider ruled. "However, no Court, whether in Missouri or Texas, can insulate the children from every parenting decision."
Schneider cited a guardian ad litem's report on how the publicity of the abuse allegations harmed the children. The court-appointed attorney found that "due to Petitioner's affidavit becoming public record, the statements in the affidavit, related to the minor children, were repeatedly aired on television in the form of political ads, and were repeatedly distributed through mass mailings in the form of political ads."
"It is in the best interests of the minor children that access to sensitive matters related to the children be restricted from further disclosure, due to the notoriety of the parties and the likelihood that members of the public will continue to use information related to the children in inappropriate ways," the ad litem added, according to the judge's ruling.
The court ruling marks the second time Eric Greitens' political career was tanked by uncorroborated allegations.
In 2018, Greitens was forced to resign as governor when St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner, a local prosecutor bankrolled by groups tied to the funding network of liberal megadonor George Soros, filed criminal charges alleging he tried to extort his ex-lover with a cellphone photograph. Greitens admitted to a short 2015 affair with his ex-hairdresser but denied the criminal charges.
Gardner abruptly withdrew the criminal charges shortly before the trial was to begin, admitting she did not have any evidence of the photo or the extortion effort. A subsequent investigation found that the alleged victim had testified she may have dreamed the alleged incident and that Gardner's chief investigator, retired FBI agent William Tisaby, had engaged in criminal wrongdoing.
In March, Tisaby pleaded guilty to evidence tampering in the Greitens case while Gardner last month was reprimanded by the Missouri Supreme Court after being found to have violated numerous standards of conduct for lawyers in the Greitens case.
Editors Note: Eric Greitens worked for a short time in 2020 as a host for joint television project between Just the News and Real America's Voice.
The Facts Inside Our Reporter's Notebook
- Show Me Values PAC reported spending nearly $8 million on ads
- ads featured a woman reading Sheena Greitens' affidavit aloud
- created some controversy of his own
- Tisaby pleaded guilty to evidence tampering
- Gardner last month was reprimanded by the Missouri Supreme Court
- found to have violated numerous standards of conduct for lawyers