Judge: No video cameras in courtroom for Greitens' trial

Greitens probe costs House $15K for court reporters

Rep. Jay Barnes, chairman of the Special Investigative Committee on Oversight, addresses members of the committee and press Tuesday, March 6, 2018.
Rep. Jay Barnes, chairman of the Special Investigative Committee on Oversight, addresses members of the committee and press Tuesday, March 6, 2018.

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Video cameras will not be allowed in the courtroom when Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens goes to trial later this month, a judge ruled Thursday.

St. Louis Circuit Judge Rex Burlison turned down a request from a lawyer working on behalf of several media outlets, citing security concerns among his reasons.

"We have the governor of the state of Missouri who will be in this courtroom, which carries an additional security risk," Burlison said. He has previously allowed video cameras for civil trials, but said he was more reluctant to do so in a criminal case.

Greitens faces trial May 14 on invasion of privacy stemming from an extramarital affair in 2015, before he was elected. The Republican is accused of taking a partially-nude and unauthorized photo of the woman while she was bound and blindfolded in the basement of his home. The woman has not been publicly identified and opposed video cameras at trial, a fact the judge also cited.

Mark Sableman, the attorney for the media organizations that include The Associated Press, said video coverage would have allowed Missourians to hear testimony themselves, unfiltered.

"Video and audio are anti-spin antidotes," Sableman said.

Burlison said he will consider Sableman's request to allow audio and still photos.

Greitens was indicted on the invasion of privacy charge in February. Last month, he was charged in St. Louis with a second, unrelated crime of computer tampering for allegedly obtaining a donor list from the veterans charity he founded, The Mission Continues, and using it for his 2016 gubernatorial campaign.

Greitens has admitted to the affair but denied criminal wrongdoing, saying he's the victim of a "political witch hunt."

He's also the subject of an investigation by a special House committee whose report in April included testimony from the woman involved in the affair in which she said Greitens coerced her into sex acts and was at times violent. The report led to widespread calls for Greitens' resignation or impeachment.

The same panel released a report Wednesday indicating that Greitens used the donor list for his political campaign and then filed an Ethics Commission document falsely attributing its source to a campaign aide.

The House has spent at least $15,000 on court reporters to transcribe its work as it investigates Greitens, according to records provided to The Associated Press under the state Sunshine Law. The records cover work by the special investigatory committee from early March to early April.

In addition to hiring court reporters, the records show the House had paid $240 to serve subpoenas to several witnesses.

Also Thursday, Missouri Times publisher Scott Faughn said in a column that he used his own money to buy audiotapes made by the ex-husband of the woman involved in the affair and that he intended to use them to write a book.

Faughn wrote that he bought the recordings from the law firm of Al Watkins, attorney for the ex-husband who secretly recorded his wife discussing the affair.

Watkins told reporters last week he received two anonymous $50,000 payments in January and deduced they were to pay the ex-husband's legal fees. Watkins declined comment Thursday. Faughn did not immediately respond to questions about whether he provided $50,000 or the entire $100,000.

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