Woman accusing Murphy staffer of rape says she 'received no justice'
The woman who accused a senior staffer in [New Jersey (D)] Gov. Phil Murphy's administration of sexually assaulting her while he worked for Murphy's campaign last year is a state official who says she is now telling her story because she has "received no justice."
Katie Brennan, who later volunteered for the campaign and is now the chief of staff at the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency, detailed her allegations against Albert J. Alvarez publicly for the first time in a story published by the Wall Street Journal on Sunday afternoon.
"I have pursued every form of justice available," Brennan, 31, of Jersey City told The Journal. "But it has become clear that this system is not built for survivors."
After the report was published Sunday afternoon, Brennan said in a statement: "On April 8th, 2017, Al Alvarez raped me. On April 9th, 2017 I learned that the system is broken."
"I decided to come forward because I know that Al Alvarez, and all perpetrators, must be held accountable, must never rape again, and the justice system needs a complete change with regard to sexual violence," Brennan said.
Her statement added: "It is clear that leadership from the Murphy administration is needed to create meaningful policy change on several levels to make sure future victims do not have to endure what I have."
So this is one member of the Governor's administration accusing another member or former member (he resigned immediately 2 weeks ago upon being contacted by reporters) of the same administration. Both Democrats of course. She kept it quiet for more than a year, I assume so as not to cause a scandal for the governor, but apparently her patience has run out.
Multiple media outlets -- including NJ Advance Media -- published reports this week citing anonymous sources saying Alvarez faced allegations of sexual assault while he worked as director of Latin and Muslim outreach for Murphy's campaign in April 2017. Alvarez, 44, of Wood-Ridge, was never charged with a crime.
Alvarez, a fellow Democrat, later worked as deputy of personnel for Murphy's transition team and then as chief of staff of the New Jersey Schools Development Authority under Murphy's administration. He resigned Oct. 2, the same day the Journal contacted him seeking comment.
Murphy and his wife, First Lady Tammy Murphy, released their first statement on the matter after the Journal's story appeared, which both defended how the administration handled Brennan's allegations, and expressed regret that Alvarez was given a job by the transition team in January.
So the buck stops with "the transition team"?
The Murphys said they are "confident" the governor's administration handled the allegations "appropriately." But, the couple added, the way Murphy's transition team handled the matter before he took office "was inconsistent with our values," and that Alvarez should not have been hired for a state position.
What a shame that the "transition team" didn't handle the matter according to the governor and First Lady's values.
In a separate statement, Mahen Gunaratna, a Murphy spokesman, said Murphy and his wife were not informed of the allegations until Oct. 2 of this year, when Alvarez resigned from his $140,000-a-year job.
Hmm, that would be the same day that Alvarez resigned. The governor and his wife were completely unaware of any of this until that time?
Meanwhile, Gunaratna confirmed that Murphy's office on Oct. 11 received a separate accusation against Alvarez that was "promptly referred" to the state attorney general. That alleged incident occurred in either 1999 or 2000, Gunaratna said.
Alvarez's attorney, John Hogan, told the Journal that his client "absolutely, positively denies these allegations of sexual assault" and declined further comment. Alvarez and Hogan did not return messages from NJ Advance Media on Sunday.
The alleged incident occurred in April of last year after a gathering of campaign staffers in Jersey City, according to the Journal report.
Brennan told the newspaper than Alvarez offered to drive her home and asked to use her bathroom and have a drink of water before heading to his home.
Once inside, Brennan told the newspaper, Alvarez forced himself on her. She told him to stop, saying this is "not consensual." She managed to kick him off her and locked herself in the bathroom. Alvarez left, according to Brennan's account to the Journal.
Brennan shared records with the Journal demonstrating she had reported the attack to local police the next day and went to the Jersey City Medical Center emergency room for an examination. Brennan's husband, Travis Miles, and her close friend, also confirmed Brennan told them about the sexual assault right after it happened.
The Hudson County Prosecutor's Office, in a statement last week, confirmed it had looked into the matter, according to the Journal report.
Brennan said she waited for months and was shocked no charges were filed. The hospital examination found DNA and saliva, Brennan told the Journal. Assistant Prosecutor Jane Weiner told her Alvarez claimed the encounter was consensual sex, according to the report.
Brennan brought her allegations to the Murphy camp three times. The first time was when she contacted the transition team after Murphy won the election in November.
In March, Brennan said, she also told Matt Platkin, chief counsel to the governor, that Alvarez had sexually assaulted her. Platkin, who was policy director during the campaign and a senior staffer during the transition, recused himself because he knew both the accused and the accuser.
Platkin referred the matter to an ethics official in the governor's office and the official referred it to the state Attorney General's Office that day, according to Gunaratna, Murphy's spokesman.
Brennan eventually emailed Murphy and his wife on June 1, saying she wanted to discuss a "sensitive matter." The e-mail did not mention a sexual assault.
"Hang in," Murphy wrote back, according to the Journal. "We are on it."
A meeting with the governor never happened, but Brennan said a campaign attorney told her Alvarez would no longer have a state government job. Alvarez didn't resign for about four months after that.
Brennan said in her statement Sunday that "sexual predators like Al Alvarez are only able to stay in power when those around them do nothing."
"Several senior level members of the Murphy administration were aware of my assault and failed to take meaningful action," she said. "Al Alvarez remained employed at a senior level in the Murphy administration until just a few weeks ago, when he knew the Wall Street Journal article was coming out and opted to resign. The failure of members of Gov. Murphy's staff to respond in an aggressive, proactive fashion is unacceptable."
Gunaratna, Murphy's spokesman, confirmed in a statement Sunday that transition officials learned law enforcement "actively investigated" the allegations against Alvarez and that they "closed the case" and decided not to pursue charges.
"Following a clear background check, Mr. Alvarez received an offer of employment in state government," Gunaratna said.
He added that when Brennan contacted the governor's office in March, "the matter was immediately and properly referred" to the office's chief ethics officer, "in accordance with state policies and procedures."
Strange story. Sounds like the governor and everyone else in his administration wanted to pretend that none of this was happening. They didn't want to know about it. Or they hid behind "policies and procedures" which never seemed to lead to any concrete action.
Then, when Brennan emailed the Murphys, the governor "properly referred the matter to his campaign counsel" because "of the time period" referenced in the email, Gunaratna said. The counsel then spoke with Brennan and her attorney multiple times, Gunaratna said.
The Murphys said in their statement that "any allegation of sexual harassment, misconduct, or assault must be treated with the utmost seriousness to ensure that survivors come forward and justice is served."
"Society must no longer allow a culture of silence to flourish, and we are committed to ensuring a culture where everyone feels comfortable reporting any instance of sexual misconduct," the couple continued.
The Murphys also said the governor has asked state officials to review New Jersey's policies on how sexual misconduct allegations are handled to see if they are "ways to improve our system."
"We must now ask: how can we hold ourselves to a higher standard moving forward?" the couple said.
Sounds like a bunch of shite to me.
A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.