Murphy official accused of rape told to find new job, but wasn’t fired

Posted: Updated:
TRENTON -

An official in Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration was asked to find a new job, but wasn’t outright fired when he was accused of sexual assault, according to testimony that came out during a legislative committee hearing Tuesday.

Murphy's chief of staff, Pete Cammarano, told a joint legislative panel Tuesday that he told Al Alvarez in March that he should leave the Schools Development Authority where he was a top aide.

When asked why he didn't fire Alvarez, Cammarano said he thought his message was clear.

“When the chief of staff tells you you need to look for employment outside of state government the message is clear and judging from his reaction at the time and his conversation back and forth, he understood what I was saying,” Cammarano said.

Cammarano also backed up Gov. Murphy's claims that he knew nothing about the allegations until reporters started asking questions in October. Cammarano said he was told state personnel policies meant he couldn't tell the governor anything.

“I was advised by two different lawyers at two different times that there were confidentiality requirements concerning the victim's allegations. To the best of my knowledge no one ever told the governor,” Cammarano testified.

RELATED: Ex-Murphy staffer accused of rape declines to testify at committee hearing
RELATED: State committee hears assault claims against former Murphy staffer

Alvarez's former boss, Charlie McKenna, was appointed to the Schools Development Authority by former Gov. Chris Christie. McKenna testified that Murphy's chief attorney told him to instruct Alvarez to find another job in June. But McKenna says that when he left in August, Alvarez was still employed.

“Every governor's different but if the governor that I worked for, if I didn't tell him this, I would still be feeling the pain today,” McKenna said.

Alvarez resigned in October, when Katie Brennan detailed allegations of sexual assault to the Wall Street Journal. Brennan alleges that Alvarez sexually assaulted her in April 2017 when both were working to get Murphy elected. Alvarez denied wrongdoing.

Murphy's transition team was notified about the allegations against Alvarez about a month before Murphy took office.

Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz read a Dec. 3, 2017 transition team memo that laid out options for what the incoming Murphy administration should do with Alvarez. The email stated the administration could discuss the situation privately with Alvarez, keep him in the dark but monitor his actions, or do nothing at all and see how it played out.

The next committee hearing will be Jan. 8, 2019.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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