Murphy: ‘The buck stops with me’ regarding report on hiring after rape allegation

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NORTH BERGEN -

Gov. Phil Murphy spoke to the media Thursday regarding his commissioned report that examined the hiring of Al Alvarez, who was accused of sex assault by campaign volunteer Katie Brennan.

The report was conducted by former state Supreme Court Justice Peter Verniero. In it, Verniero found that “the system failed and is in need of reform” and that no one knows exactly who hired Alvarez to his six-figure state job during the transition period between Election Day 2017 and Murphy's inauguration the following January.

“I take responsibility now for getting this fixed,” Murphy said.

The report states that officials on the governor’s senior staff thought that they were following state confidentiality rules by not telling him about the sex assault allegation leveled by Brennan against Alvarez.

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

“The fact of the matter is, I wish I knew sooner. My heart was broken, I got stick to my stomach, I still am, when I found out about it,” said Murphy. “I sure wish I had known sooner.”

But state Sen. Loretta Weinberg says that her legislative committee investigating Alvarez and other Murphy hires will continue its own investigation.

“For people to say they thought they were acting in good faith is not accurate information of what took place here,” she says. “I don’t like the words ‘system failed.’ ‘System’ is made up of people.”

Murphy endorsed the reforms in the Veneiro report and admitted that it may be hard for some to believe that everyone shares a little bit of the blame.

“I also understand that not all the answers are satisfying. And I share in the frustration of those who are looking for easy answers. One thing we can be clear about: The buck stops with me,” Murphy said.

In a statement Brennan said, "There was a lack of accountability and effective policies and procedures to address a glaring personnel problem in the Transition."

Prosecutors in Hudson and Middlesex counties declined to file any criminal charges against Alvarez.

Alvarez has denied any wrongdoing.

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