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Murphy Defends Administrations Response To Sex Assault Allegations

December 19, 2018 - 3:22 pm

TRENTON, N.J. (WCBS 880/AP) — New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy's top aides were grilled Tuesday by a legislative panel investigating sex assault allegations by a former campaign staffer.

Murphy defended his top lieutenants Wednesday, saying he didn’t doubt that his administration acted with respect.

“I have no reason to believe that folks operated in anyway other than out of respect for their obligations — both ethically, legally  and confidentiality,” Murphy said.

Pete Cammarano, the governor’s chief of staff, testified in front of a legislative panel investigating the sex assault allegations that he knew for months about Katie Brennan’s accusations against Al Alvarez. In fact, Murphy's administration twice asked an Alvarez to leave his position in the state’s government, nearly seven months before a newspaper story detailing the allegations emerged, but stopped short of firing him.

Brennan said in an October Wall Street Journal report that Alvarez, who worked as the top aide in the state's Schools Development Authority, sexually assaulted her in 2017 and that little was done about her allegations despite reporting them to authorities and officials in Murphy's transition team and administration.

She claims she even wrote an email about the matter to Gov. Murphy himself.

Though the Democrat noted he “had no idea what she was talking about.”

Murphy has since ordered multiple investigations into the allegation.

“It's part of the reason why we stood up three tracks of investigation, of review, of reflection,” the governor noted.

He declined to answer when asked if he wished he had been told sooner.

Brennan is a top aide the state's housing authority and testified before the committee earlier this month. Alvarez was handed a job with this school development authority despite the allegations.

On Tuesday, it became clear that Murphy's administration tried for months to push Alvarez out the door, but ultimately failed, until Brennan's story became public.

Alvarez has denied wrongdoing and declined lawmakers' invitation to appear before the committee.

(© 2018 WCBS 880. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)