Updated at 9:05 p.m. ET
The trial of Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens was halted Monday, the third day of jury selection, but officials said they will refile the felony invasion of privacy case using a special prosecutor.
Greitens has been accused of taking a photo of a partially nude woman without her consent. He has denied taking the photo, although he has acknowledged having an extramarital affair with the woman. She hasn’t spoken publicly about the case. Her former husband told a local television station about the allegations in January.
Assistant St. Louis Circuit Attorney Ronald Sullivan announced that he was withdrawing the case Monday and said he wanted to switch to using a special prosecutor because Greitens’ lawyers planned to call St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner as a witness in a case being conducted by her own subordinates. The defense attorneys have criticized her handling of the case and accused a private investigator she hired of committing perjury.
According to The Associated Press, Greitens told reporters outside the courtroom: “Today the prosecutor has dropped the false charges against me. This is a great victory and it has been a long time coming. … This experience has been humbling and I have emerged from it a changed man.”
A forensic expert has examined a cellphone used by the governor and has not found evidence of the nude photo. It is not known whether the phone examined is the same one Greitens was using during the time the photo allegedly was taken.
The governor has been accused of threatening that if the woman revealed their affair, damaging his political interests, he would distribute the photo.
A special investigative committee of the Missouri House has also issued a report saying the woman told her now-ex-husband that Greitens subjected her to physical assault and emotional abuse.
The Missouri legislature has been considering whether to impeach Greitens and the Republican and Democratic leaders of the state House and Senate said Monday that process will continue, despite the developments in court. Their joint statement said the “legislature is a separate and co-equal branch of government” with its own responsibilities.
In a separate prosecution, Greitens has been charged with tampering with computer data by illegally obtaining a list of donors to his veterans charity and using it to seek contributions for his 2016 political campaign.