Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens released a joint statement with his wife Sheena Chestnut Greitens early Thursday after admitting that he was in extramarital relationship with a married woman. While Eric accepted that he cheated on his wife, he denied claims of blackmailing the mistress with an explicit photo.

"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," the joint statement read.

"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. 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," it said. 

In a separate statement, Sheena wrote: "We have a loving marriage and an awesome family; anything beyond that is between us and God. I want the media and those who wish to peddle gossip to stay from me and my children."

The news about Eric's affair came to light after his former lover's now ex-husband revealed the story to St Louis TV station KMOV.  In an audio recording, a woman purported to be Greiten's lover was heard telling her husband about a physical interaction she had with the lawmaker.

The ex-husband alleged that Eric had taken a nude picture of his mistress to use "as blackmail."

"There is no worse person," the ex-husband alleged. "I think it's as bad as it gets, It's as bad as it gets when someone takes advantage of something."

However, in a statement James F. Bennett, Eric's attorney, denied the claims: "The governor has now seen the TV report that ran tonight (Wednesday). The station has declined to provide the tape or transcript in advance of running their story, which contained multiple false allegations. The claim that this nearly three-year-old story has generated or should generate law enforcement interest is completely false. There was no "blackmail," and that claim is false. This personal matter has been addressed by the governor and Mrs. Greitens privately years ago when it happened. The outrageous claims of improper conduct regarding these almost three-year-old events are a lie."

The woman claimed that Eric engaged in a sexual relationship with her back in March 2015. The woman said in the recording that the sexual encounter was consensual and that Eric apologized and deleted the nude photo after the encounter.

Eric and Sheena got married in 2011 and have two sons — Joshua and Jacob. According to Eric's official website, the family "enjoy spending time together as a family reading, baking cookies, or being outdoors at one of Missouri’s many state parks and hiking trails."

Sheena, who serve as an assistant professor at the University of Missouri, attended Stanford University, where she graduated with a B.A. in political science, and Oxford University, where she studied as a Marshall Scholar. She also earned a Ph.D. in Government from Harvard University.