Top Murphy administration official says Alvarez raped her during 2017 gov campaign

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Katie Brennan, a top official in Gov. Phil Murphy’s (D) administration, says that Albert Alvarez, another high ranking official in Trenton until recently, raped her during the 2017 gubernatorial campaign. 

Katie Brennan, the chief of staff at the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency, says that Albert Alvarez, the former chief of staff at the New Jersey Schools Development Authority, raped her last year during the gubernatorial campaign and no one did anything to help her. Photos via ContactOut and Facebook.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“On April 8th, 2017, Al Alvarez raped me. On April 9th, 2017 I learned that the system is broken. I have pursued every form of justice available. But it has become clear that this system is not built for survivors,” Brennan, the chief of staff at the state Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency, said in a statement released today.

“The details of the assault portrayed in reporter Kate King’s Wall Street Journal report published today are accurate. But to date, I have received no justice. 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.”

In the WSJ account, Brennan, 31, who lives in Jersey City, says she turned down a $15,000 settlement – that came with a non-disclosure agreement – against Alvarez and also alleges the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office told her there was not enough evidence for the jury to indict Alvarez.

Alvarez was the head of the New Jersey Schools Development Authority before he abruptly  resigned earlier this month. Politico reported that the resignation came after details of a sexual misconduct allegation from last year had begun to come out.

In her statement, Brennan boldly proclaims that “several senior members of the Murphy administration” were aware of the situation and “failed to take any meaningful action.”

Murphy, in a joint statement with the First Lady, Tammy Murphy, said that they felt the allegations were handled appropriately and for the first time admitted that hiring Alvarez was a mistake.

“We are confident that this allegation was handled appropriately by the Administration and that current policies and procedures were properly and promptly followed. However, it is clear that the process during the Transition was inconsistent with our values, and the hire should not have happened. We must now ask: how can we hold ourselves to a higher standard moving forward?,” they said.

“We have asked Mamta Patel, the Director of the Statewide Division of Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action within the Civil Service Commission, to review the state’s policies and procedures addressing how allegations of sexual misconduct are handled to determine whether there are ways to improve our system.”

Furthermore, Murphy spokesman Mahen Gunaratna said Brennan’s interactions with the Murphy administration on the matter were not ignored.

“When Ms. Brennan raised allegations directly to the Administration in March 2018, the matter was immediately and properly referred to the Chief Ethics Officer of the Governor’s Office and to the Attorney General’s Office, in accordance with state policies and procedures,” he said in an email.

“In June 2018, Ms. Brennan emailed the Governor and the First Lady regarding a ‘sensitive matter.’ Unaware of the substance, and because of the time period referenced in Ms. Brennan’s email, the Governor properly referred the matter to his campaign counsel, who spoke to Ms. Brennan and her attorney on multiple occasions.

Gunaratna said that the Murphy’s were not informed that Brennan was alleging she was sexually assaulting by Alvarez until October 2nd, around the same time that they heard the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office declined to charge Alvarez.

Additionally, he said that an allegation from Alvarez dating back to “either 1999 or 2000” was forwarded to the state Attorney General’s Office on Thursday.

Alvarez isn’t the only Murphy official to resign in the midst of controversy.

Marcellus Jackson, a former Passaic councilman who went to prison for 25 months after pleading guilty to bribery, worked at the state Department of Education before details of his past hit the press last month.

Murphy has defended the hiring as someone deserving a second chance after paying their debt to society.

A spokesman for the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office did not immediately return an email seeking comment.