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Eric Greitens court case over abuse allegations unlikely to be resolved before Missouri primary

Former Gov. Eric Greitens, second from right, leaves the Boone County Courthouse Wednesday with his attorney, Gary Stamper, masked, after a 7 1/2-hour deposition hearing in the child custody case stemming from his 2020 divorce (Rudi Keller/Missouri Independent).
Rudi Keller/Missouri Independent
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Former Gov. Eric Greitens, second from right, leaves the Boone County Courthouse Wednesday with his attorney, Gary Stamper, masked, after a 7 1/2-hour deposition hearing in the child custody case stemming from his 2020 divorce (Rudi Keller/Missouri Independent).

Judge’s order sets deadline for filings three days after voters will go to the polls in hotly contested U.S. Senate race.

The U.S. Senate primary in Missouri will likely be over before there is a resolution in the child custody case that has dominated headlines with allegations of child and spousal abuse against former Gov. Eric Greitens.

At the end of seven hours in a closed-door deposition hearing Wednesday, Associate Circuit Judge Leslie Schneider ordered the parties to submit any additional evidence within 15 days. That makes the deadline Aug. 5, three days after voters decide whether Greitens should be the GOP Senate nominee in the Aug. 2 primary.

The order became public on Friday afternoon.

“I hope that everything the judge needs is filed well before that in order to get a decision as quickly as possible,” Helen Wade, attorney for Sheena Greitens, said Saturday morning.

Neither Eric Greitens’ attorney, Gary Stamper, nor his campaign responded immediately to messages seeking comment on Schneider’s order.

The order did not state how long Schneider would take to issue a ruling after receiving the evidence.

The Greitens’ and their attorneys declined to discuss what was said during the closed-door hearing as they emerged Wednesday evening. Stamper said Schneider ordered them to remain silent about the proceeding but that was not stated in the docket entry.

The issue before Schneider is whether jurisdiction over child custody decisions should be moved to Texas, where Sheena Greitens lives now, or remain in Boone County, where their divorce was filed in 2020. Sheena Greitens filed a case in Texas asking the courts there to take jurisdiction, but the judge deferred that decision to Schneider.

The Greitens have two sons from their marriage.

Eric Greitens had led or was statistically tied with U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler and Attorney General Eric Schmitt in all of the polls published prior to Sheena Greitens’ decision to file an affidavit outlining allegations of child and spousal abuse — and fear of her husband’s influence with the courts and police — as a reason for moving the case.

Since then, polls have continued to show him as a frontrunner but no new publicly released poll has been conducted since late June. That was before a newly formed political action committee, Show Me Values, began blanketing the state with ads highlighting the charges.

The PAC, created June 2 and funded initially with $1 million from Republican mega-donor Rex Sinquefield and $250,000 from Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, has spent $7.4 million, including $3.7 million on television ads in every market of the state.

That is the most of any candidate or PAC seeking to influence the GOP primary.

While he has used social media and television appearances to accuse Sheena Greitens of lying, Eric Greitens has been unable to respond in kind to the Show Me Values air war. His campaign committee has raised $2.2 million since he entered the race last year, had $350,000 on July 13 and has not purchased any television ads.

A PAC that supported Greitens by purchasing ads early in the year, Team PAC, is broke and another, Missouri First Action, has spent $550,000 airing ads promoting him to rural Missourians.

Missouri Independent is part of States Newsroom, a network of news outlets supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Missouri Independent maintains editorial independence.

Copyright 2022 St. Louis Public Radio. To see more, visit St. Louis Public Radio.

Rudi Keller covers the state budget, energy and the legislature for the Missouri Independent.
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