Hearing continues on Murphy administration hiring practices after rape allegations

Posted: Updated:
TRENTON -

A hearing about the Murphy administration’s hiring practices in the wake of a sexual assault allegation continued Tuesday.

Gov. Phil Murphy said that he did not find out about the allegations until this past October. But a special legislative committee is investigating why the alleged attacker was given a high-paying job within the administration in the wake of those allegations.

“Common sense would say if it's so serious the governor should be made aware. Yet no one has made the governor aware,” said committee attorney Michael Critchley.

State worker Katie Brennan has accused former Murphy employee Albert Alvarez of raping her when the two were working on Murphy’s gubernatorial campaign in 2017. Brennan was volunteering for the campaign at the time. She says that she reported the attack to law enforcement and to officials in the campaign, but she says that nothing was done.

The Hudson County Prosecutor's Office did investigate the allegations, but declined to file charges against Alvarez.

“This is one of the worst things that can happen to a woman. And to have it treated so lightly by so-called responsible people is just very offensive,” said state Sen. Sandra Cunningham.

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Brennan says that one of the people she told about the alleged attack was Parimal Garg, the governor’s deputy chief counsel.

“She said she needed to talk to me about a matter of serious wrongdoing by a senior administration official,” Garg testified.

Officials say that by March of 2018, Murphy’s chief of staff and chief counsel knew about the allegations. Part of the inquiry is to find out why no one told the governor.

“Was there a conscious decision to keep the governor in the dark?” Critchley asked.

“I really actually don’t recall a conversation about that…I don’t actually remember that being a conscious decision,” Murphy campaign lawyer Jonathan Berkon answered.

Critchley said that representatives for the Murphy campaign and Murphy administration have not been very forthcoming with information about the case.

“When we ask people on the campaign about the facts of this case, they say talk to the state. When we talk to the administration, they say talk to the campaign,” Critchley said.

Alvarez has denied the allegations. He resigned from his position in October after the story about the allegations broke.

The hearing is scheduled to continue on Thursday. Murphy's outgoing chief of staff Pete Cammarano will complete testimony he began last month.

Editor's Note: An updated version of this story adds the fact that the Hudson County Prosecutor's Office investigated the allegations and declined to file charges.

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