State committee hears assault claims against former Murphy staffer

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TRENTON -

The state government employee who says Gov. Phil Murphy's campaign staff didn't take her sexual assault allegations seriously has testified before a legislative oversight committee.

Katie Brennan alleges she was assaulted by Al Alvarez, who led Latino and Muslim outreach during Murphy's campaign and later was named to a $140,000-a-year position at the Schools Development Corp.

Brennan, the chief of staff at the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency, told the committee Tuesday she attempted to go through the proper channels but only saw results after she told her story to the Wall Street Journal.

Brennan testified about an 18-month timeline of her experiences with the legal system, Murphy’s campaign and the Murphy administration. But she says that nothing was done.

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“Once again, no action. Once again, my voice went unheard. I heard nothing further. And I still sought justice and I still wanted to stop Al Alvarez from assaulting again and I still wanted more for the survivors of New Jersey,” Brennan said. “I thought that if any administration could make progressive reforms, it would be this one.”

Brennan also detailed writing a letter to Alvarez that she said was delivered to the campaign headquarters, making lawyers for the transition team aware of her allegations, and speaking to the governor’s chief ethics officer.

Alvarez has denied the allegations. He resigned from his position in October.

Murphy has said he did not know about the accusations against Alvarez until the news broke publicly. He says that he believes his office acted appropriately. He hired a former state Supreme Court justice to conduct a review.

Murphy issued a statement following Brennan's testimony.

"I commend the courage, bravery, and leadership [Katie Brennan] showed in telling her story. She is right: no one should have to go through an ordeal to have their voices heard," Murphy said.

The committee's co-chairs say that they have not ruled anything out for their investigation, including having the governor testify.

Alvarez has also been invited to tell to testify. It was not immediately known if he would accept the offer. The next committee hearing is set for Dec. 18.

The Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office is also investigating the allegations against Alvarez.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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