TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A hiring controversy has hit New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration.
A senior official in the governor’s office has accused a former fellow top staffer of rape, and on Tuesday she testified in Trenton.
The woman said her calls for action by the Murphy administration went unanswered.
Katie Brennan, chief of staff to the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency, put her right hand up and swore to tell the truth about a sexual assault she said occurred while working on Murphy’s campaign, CBS2’s Meg Baker reported.
“I reported my attack to the police and the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office, and my report went unheard,” Brennan said. “I reported my attack to the campaign, the transition committee and administration and it went unheard. I asked to report my attack to the governor and first lady and my request went unheard. I an no survivor should have to tell her story to the newspaper to be heard.”
Brennan said she took her story to the Wall Street Journal after the man she is accusing of rape, Albert Alvarez, continued to work as a top aid to Gov. Murphy. She said the assault happened in April of 2017 in her apartment after a campaign event in Jersey City. Brennan said she went to the hospital for a rape kit the day after the alleged incident, contacted police and a friend, Justin Braz, who is close to Gov. Murphy.
“I needed support and protection,” Brennan said. “I told Mr. Braz that Mr. Alvarez had raped me the night before. Mr. Braz is presently Gov. Murphy’s deputy chief of staff for legislative affairs.”
After the article was published in October, Alvarez resigned his position as director of Latin and Muslim outreach, but prosecutors decided there was not enough evidence to charge the 44-year-old with a crime in Hudson County. A review of that decision is now underway, CBS2’s Baker reported.
“I feared running into Mr. Alvarez and I did see him repeatedly,” Brennan said. “I continued to work with the Murphy campaign because I did not want to let the assault stand in the way of me working for the campaign and Gov. Murphy’s administration. As a victim of sexual assault, I should not be the one to give up my career goals in favor of the career goals of my rapist.”
Murphy’s fellow Democrats called Tuesday’s hearing. After Brennan’s testimony, the governor sent out a statement saying he commends Brennan for her bravery, has called for internal investigations and is now changing hiring policies.
Other Murphy staffers mentioned Tuesday may be called to testify in front of the same committee in the coming months. Two other women have since come forward saying Alvarez assaulted them, too.
Brennan said she will continue to seek justice and also push for policy change regarding the screening and hiring practices of the state.