Gov. Murphy: Probe of sexual assault claim shows ‘hard truths’

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TRENTON -

Gov. Phil Murphy says that a probe he ordered into how his administration dealt with sexual assault allegations revealed "hard truths" and that he agrees with the "corrective actions" it recommends.

The report, by former Supreme Court Justice Peter Verniero, came out Wednesday, more than three months after Katie Brennan's allegations against Albert Alvarez came to light in a newspaper article.

The report says Murphy's transition learned of the allegations in December, but Alvarez's hiring proceeded in a "seamless progression."

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Brennan is chief of staff of the state's housing finance agency. She says Alvarez assaulted her in 2017 while they worked on Murphy’s gubernatorial campaign. Brennan was a volunteer at the time.

Alvarez served as chief of staff at the Schools Development Authority until October, when the allegations emerged. He denies the claims. Prosecutors from two counties declined to bring charges.

The governor says that he wishes his staff had told him earlier about the allegations. Murphy says he didn't learn about them until October when a Wall Street Journal report on the allegations was about to come out.

On Tuesday, Murphy announced changes in how the state handles sexual misconduct allegations in the future. The new rules will apply to people who work for the governor in the transition period, as well as new job applicants.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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