Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens and wife Sheena, pictured in December 2016, issued a statement Wednesday acknowledging the governor had an extramarital affair — but refuted a TV news story about a claim of blackmail. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI

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Jan. 11 (UPI) — Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens and his wife on Wednesday acknowledged an extramarital affair, but the governor’s attorney denied allegations of blackmail that surfaced in a television news story.

The governor’s statement late Wednesday followed a report by KMOV-TVthat alleged Greitens took a compromising photograph of the woman and threatened to make it public if she exposed him.

“A few years ago, before Eric was elected Governor, there was a time when he was unfaithful in our marriage. This was a deeply personal mistake. Eric took responsibility, and we dealt with this together honestly and privately,” Sheena Greitens said.

“While we never would have wished for this pain in our marriage, or the pain that this has caused others, with God’s mercy Sheena has forgiven and we have emerged stronger,” the governor said. “We understand that there will be some people who cannot forgive — but for those who can find it in your heart, Eric asks for your forgiveness, and we are grateful for your love, your compassion, and your prayers.”

The couple didn’t address claims of blackmail, but attorney James Bennett refuted the allegations.

“There was no blackmail, and that claim is false,” Bennett said.

The KMOV report said the unidentified woman had told her husband about the affair and the blackmail, which she said happened in March 2015 — and that the man had recorded the discussion and ultimately took it to the television station.

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