Woman allegedly raped by ex-aide to New Jersey governor gives powerful testimony

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Toni Yates has more on the powerful testimony of a woman allegedly raped by ex-staffer Albert Alvarez.

The woman who accused a former aide to New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy of raping her gave powerful testimony at the statehouse Tuesday.

Katherine Brennan testified publicly about her alleged sex assault by ex-staffer Albert Alvarez, who she says attacked her on April 7, 2017, while both were members of Murphy's campaign.

During her testimony, Brennan gave the Select Oversight Committee a detailed timeline of various instances she reported the alleged crime to law enforcement, as well as to Murphy administration officials.

Each time, she said she was met with a promise to look into the matter.

"I had access to people in the highest positions of power in the state of New Jersey, and each time, my pleas for help went unanswered," she said.

Alvarez continued to work for the campaign, leading Latino and Muslim outreach and was later named to a $140,000-a-year position at the Schools Development Corp.

During her testimony, Brennan said she even emailed Gov. Murphy and first lady Tammy Murphy to speak about "a sensitive matter." She said the governor responded within the hour to schedule a meeting that never happened.

Believing that she had exhausted all outlets, she turned to the press.

"My only power left was my voice," she said. "I told my story to the Wall Street Journal."

Alvarez resigned once the Journal reached out for comment on their story. He denies the allegations and claims any sexual contact was consensual.

Murphy has said he believes his office acted appropriately. He hired a former state Supreme Court justice to conduct a review.

The governor issued the following statement following the testimony:

"I watched Ms. Brennan's opening statement today, and I commend the courage, bravery, and leadership she showed in telling her story. She is right: no one should have to go through an ordeal to have their voices heard. We must stand with survivors of sexual assault, and we must start from a place of believing the accuser.

"On October 15th, I called for two separate internal investigations into exactly how this hire took place, and how we can best update our current policies and procedures. I then tasked Attorney General Gurbir Grewal with looking at making New Jersey's criminal justice system the most victim-centered in the country, to help ensure that no one has to go through what Ms. Brennan has gone through. The policies and procedures that he issued last week will make meaningful changes to how sexual assault victims are treated and how prosecutions are handled in our state.

"Specifically, these policies will expand the role of confidential sexual assault advocates for victims, require data reporting and evaluation on sexual assault prosecutions, mandate that law enforcement report sexual assault incidents to county prosecutors within 24 hours, and, if charges are not pursued, require a supervisor's sign-off and provide victims with an opportunity to meet with prosecutors to discuss the decision. This is real change to the criminal justice system, change that makes our states among the most victim-centered in the country.

"By embracing this approach, our law enforcement agencies can encourage more victims to come forward with their stories and seek justice, just as Ms. Brennan is so bravely doing. I am committed to working with Attorney General Grewal and the whole of state government to ensure that New Jersey is a place where justice is the right of every person, and every person is treated with dignity and respect while seeking it."


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Related Topics:
politicsGovernor Phil Murphysexual assaultinvestigationNewarkEssex County
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