Gov. Phil Murphy says New Jersey government procedures have to change after state worker Katie Brennan’s tearful testimony that she was raped and her pleas for help to officials were ignored.
At a Wednesday press conference, Murphy called Brennan “extraordinary” and “poised” for speaking before a state legislative committee about the alleged sexual assault and subsequent attempts to have law enforcement and state government officials help her get justice.
“We have to question ourselves and change the parameters,” Murphy said of Brennan’s claims that no one in his administration took her rape claim seriously enough.
The Democrat also pointed to steps his administration has taken since Brennan’s account appeared in October article in the Wall Street Journal, including an internal investigation by former state Supreme Court Justice Peter Verniero.
Murphy reiterated that, although Brennan emailed him in June asking to discuss a sensitive matter, they never met face to face. He said he didn’t learn of the matter until October.
“The minute I understood what happened to her … my heart broke. I got sick to my stomach,” Murphy said. “I feel awful to this moment about it.”
Brennan said after a Murphy campaign event in April of last year, she was raped by campaign staffer Al Alvarez, a claim Alvarez has denied.
Brennan told police and the Hudson County prosecutor’s office, but no charges were ever filed. She also reached out to several officials on Murphy’s transition team and inside his administration to little avail.
After Murphy took office, both Brennan and Alvarez were hired by the new administration. It wasn’t until the Wall Street Journal called Alvarez for a comment this fall that he resigned from his job.
The incident is now the subject of an investigation by a joint state legislative committee scrutinizing state government hiring practices and sexual assault reporting procedures.