Embattled aide to New York City First Lady takes leave of absence after son's arrest

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Dave Evans has more from City Hall. (WABC)

The chief of staff to New York City's first lady announced Monday that she is taking a leave of absence following the arrest of her son.

Rachel Noerdlinger, the aide to Chirlane McCray, said she wants to spend more time with her son, 17 year old Khari Noerdlinger, who was arrested Friday on a charge of criminal trespass.

Noerdlinger said the past two months had been "extremely difficult" for them.

According to a criminal complaint, the teen was in an apartment building Friday and couldn't tell authorities who he was there to see. Police said there was a sign that read: "No trespassing, this is a building for tenants and their guests only." They said he had no identification so he was arrested. His case will be dismissed after he completes one day of community service, as long as he stays out of trouble.

Police unions and some newspaper columnists previously called for Noerdlinger's dismissal after damaging revelations. They included admissions that she did not disclose during her background check that her live-in boyfriend pleaded guilty to manslaughter 21 years ago. He also mocked police on Facebook.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and McCray said they wish her the best during her leave.

Noerdlinger is a former spokeswoman for the Rev. Al Sharpton.

She said Khari's arrest "heightens the need for me to devote my full attention to Khari, my number one priority. I am profoundly thankful for Bill and Chirlane's unwavering support over the last few months. I can handle criticism and scrutiny of me, even when it's mean-spirited-that comes with the territory when you take on the status quo. But increasingly, my son has been subjected to attacks that have nothing to do with the public interest, and everything to do with derailing this administration. I do not want to be a distraction-the work at hand is far too urgent."

De Blasio said Noerdlinger's leave is indefinite and his wife will be hiring a new chief of staff. He said she is welcome to return to the administration when she is ready.

The mayor called what happened to her "repulsive" and the coverage of her "far, far" overblown.

"The idea is for those of us who have a sense of mission we are not going to let it stop us," de Blasio said. "Character assassination happens every day in public life. What is sad is when it goes beyond the boundaries of the public servant to include anyone they've ever met, any family member, anyone they are romantic with, their children. Look, you guys do what you want to do, but for the rest of us, as citizens, as people who are trying to make this city better or this country better, we have to get on with the work and not be putting so much time into one person's personal life."

Rev. Sharpton issued a statement following the announcement:
"Rachel has been a valuable asset to the progressive movement, the City of New York, National Action Network and myself; but she has always made it clear that she is a mother first. I have watched her try to balance her very important and active professional life with her immovable commitment to her son, so I am not surprised with her decision. I also agree that one can not gauge what impact recent events may of had on her son, Khari; who unlike Rachel, the Mayor or I, did not volunteer for a public life that often involves media distortion, smears and outright lies."

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
Related Topics:
politicsbill de blasiopoliticsChirlane McCrayrachel noerdlingerNew York City
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