Breitens custody case despatched to Texas

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens custody case judge ruled it should move to Texas because his two sons now spend most of their time there and to better protect the boys from public scrutiny . according to a court document obtained by The Associated Press on Thursday.

Boone County, Missouri, Associated Circuit Judge Leslie Schneider briefly addressed allegations of domestic violence made by Greitens’ ex-wife, Sheena Greitens, in the ruling, issued in August but unpublished in Missouri.

“The court finds through the overwhelming evidence that there was no pattern of domestic violence on the part of either the mother or father,” Schneider wrote. “The children were never endangered or endangered at the hands of a parent.”

Greitens said in an email to The Associated Press that the judge’s comments were a justification.

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“That was a lie, about me and my boys,” Greitens wrote late Thursday. “The judge concluded that the children were never at risk or at risk. The only harm to my children, as the verdict makes clear, came from those lies and their promotion by a willing press.”

Sheena Greiten’s attorney, Helen Wade, said she never claimed a “pattern” but rather specific instances of abuse.

“DR. Sheena Greitens has never claimed a ‘pattern,’ which is a legal term of art,” Wade said in a statement Thursday. “DR. Over a long period of time, under oath, Greitens described specific incidents that were documented in detail by third parties at the time, and she stands by her sworn statements.”

Greitens, 48, stepped down as governor in June 2018, less than a year and a half after his first term. His downfall was spurred by a sex scandal and allegations of campaign finance. He tried to stage a political comeback in a run for the US Senate, but finished third in the August 2 primary, which was won by Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt. Charges from his opponents often focused on the explosive allegations made by Sheena Greitens in a March affidavit in which they accused her ex-husband of domestic abuse.

Eric and Sheena Greitens divorced in 2020 and she moved to Texas. She is a professor of public affairs at the University of Texas at Austin.

It was disputed whether custody of the couple’s two sons should be in Missouri or Texas.

Schneider ruled late last month that the case should be moved to Texas. Sheena Greitens, who requested the move, requested that Texas seal the records in the ongoing case. But the AP was able to obtain the court document from the Travis County Courthouse in Austin.

The judge noted concerns about media attention in Missouri raised by the paramedic appointed to represent the children’s interests. “She has confirmed that there are more ways to protect the privacy of parties and children in Texas,” the ruling reads. It notes that in Missouri, all court records are considered open to the public and that the judge in this case received numerous requests for documents.

The ruling also cited Sheena Greitens’ own records, which show the boys spend around 70% of their time in Texas. Schneider’s ruling states that the boys “have a significant connection with Texas and have no significant connection with Missouri.”

Sheena Greiten’s affidavit states that Eric Greitens was physically abusive during their marriage and exhibited such “unstable and coercive behavior” that steps were taken to restrict his access to firearms.

Eric Greiten’s attorney, Gary Stamper, said in a statement Friday that “Eric had a strong belief that the truth would eventually catch up with the media-driven narrative.”

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Eric Greitens claimed that Sheena Greitens’ claims were part of a political attack staged by those who wanted him to lose his race. Several GOP leaders publicly worried that if Greitens won the primary, he could lose to a Democrat in November, even in a largely Republican state like Missouri.

Sheena Greitens denied any political motivation and said she did not work with anyone else to complete the affidavit.

This week, the AP joined the Kansas City Star’s request to obtain the Missouri case files, arguing the decision went too far and denied voters vital information about a recent candidate for public office.

Eric Greitens, a former Navy SEAL officer and Rhodes Fellow, was elected in November 2016. In January 2018, he confirmed a 2015 television report of an extramarital affair with his St. Louis barber. He was subsequently charged with invasion of privacy for allegedly taking a nude picture of the woman and using it to keep her quiet . Those charges were dropped months later following allegations that the chief investigator and local prosecutor mishandled the investigation.

Greitens claimed that he was the victim of a political attack.

He faced a second indictment alleging illegal use of a donor list from a charity he founded to raise money for his campaign. That was dropped when he resigned in June 2018 after the Missouri House opened an impeachment inquiry.

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