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Gardner barred from involvement in future Greitens case

ST. LOUIS – It will be up to a special prosecutor if the invasion-of-privacy case against Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens will move forward.

St. Louis Circuit Judge Rex Burlison on Monday agreed with a request from the city circuit attorney's office to recuse itself from the case. Susan Ryan, a spokeswoman for the circuit attorney's office, says that means that a special prosecutor will decide if the charge would be refiled.

The Republican governor was indicted by a grand jury in February. He is accused of taking a compromising and unauthorized photo of a woman during an affair in 2015.

The charge was dismissed May 14 during jury selection after the court said it would allow Greitens' lawyers to question Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner under oath. Gardner said it would have been improper for her to be a witness in a trial her office was prosecuting.

Greitens also faces a second charge in St. Louis accusing him of misusing a charity donor list for his gubernatorial campaign. And, the state Legislature is meeting in special session to consider impeachment.

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In the meantime, the St. Louis Circuit Court named Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker to lead the investigation and potential retrial. Baker's office released the following statement Monday afternoon:

I was informed today by the Circuit Court in St. Louis, MO., that my office was named as special prosecutor in the Gov. Greitens' case. I quickly assembled a team of prosecutors and other staff to begin our process to review this matter.

No elected official relishes involvement in such difficult matters as an investigation of criminal wrongdoing by another official, but we also understand our duty.

I directed my staff that we will go about our review of this case as we review any case. It will be thorough and our decisions, as I have stated before, will be made without fear or favor.

We will need to work as quickly as possible. We do not know what the result of the review will be. But let me stress that this review will be based solely on the evidence. Politics, affiliations or other matters beyond the evidence will not play a role.

My office has prosecuted many similar cases and has experienced prosecutors, victim advocates and others who can assist. I will be involved in directing the review. My office will not comment about this case or the review until it has been completed. I ask that everyone respect the privacy of witnesses and victims in this case.

I will not agree to interviews or answer other questions at this time.