the staff of the Ridgewood blog
Jersey City NJ,Katie Brennan spent more than a year trying to get authorities to take action against the man she accuses of sexually assaulting her. Finally, she emailed New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy.
Ms. Brennan, chief of staff at the state’s housing agency and a former volunteer for the governor’s campaign, first called the police in April 2017, one day, she said, after a campaign staffer allegedly forced himself on her. After months of investigation, the county prosecutor’s office declined to file charges against her alleged attacker, saying it didn’t think a jury would convict him. She turned to state law enforcement and high-ranking members of the Murphy administration. Nothing changed.
Finally, the 31-year-old Jersey City resident, who said she turned down a $15,000 settlement offer from her alleged assailant if she signed a nondisclosure agreement, emailed Mr. Murphy and first lady Tammy Murphy directly.
In April 2017, after a gathering of Murphy campaign staffers at a bar in Jersey City, Mr. Alvarez, who was then the campaign’s outreach director for Muslim and Latino communities, offered to drive Ms. Brennan home and then asked to use her bathroom and have a drink of water before continuing the drive to his own home, she said.
Following is a statement from Katie Brennan, a 2017 Murphy campaign volunteer and current Chief of Staff at the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency, in response to today’s Wall Street Journal report that details her sexual assault by Al Alvarez, who served in senior leadership roles on the Murphy campaign and was until earlier this month the Chief Of Staff for the New Jersey Schools Development Authority.
“On April 8th, 2017, Al Alvarez raped me. On April 9th, 2017 I learned that the system is broken.
“I have pursued every form of justice available. But it has become clear that this system is not built for survivors.
“The details of the assault portrayed in reporter Kate King’s Wall Street Journal report published today are accurate. But to date, I have received no justice.
“I decided to come forward because I know that Al Alvarez, and all perpetrators, must be held accountable, must never rape again, and the justice system needs a complete change with regard to sexual violence.
“New Jersey residents are only given a two-year window to file a civil suit. After spending an entire year pursuing a criminal case before hitting a dead end, I am left with less than one year to pursue civil action.
“It is clear that leadership from the Murphy administration is needed to create meaningful policy change on several levels to make sure future victims do not have to endure what I have. I urge Gov. Murphy and the Attorney General’s Office to eliminate the statute of limitations on civil action related to sexual assault, and to direct prosecutors to be more aggressive in taking on these criminal cases. Further, the Murphy administration and the General Assembly should pursue legislation to ensure New Jersey’s police and other first responders are better trained to handle sexual assault victims.
“Finally, sexual predators like Al Alvarez are only able to stay in power when those around them do nothing. Several senior level members of the Murphy administration were aware of my assault and failed to take meaningful action. Al Alvarez remained employed at a senior level in the Murphy administration until just a few weeks ago, when he knew the Wall Street Journal article was coming out and opted to resign. The failure of members of Gov. Murphy’s staff to respond in an aggressive, proactive fashion is unacceptable.
“To other sexual assault survivors in New Jersey, I urge you to join me in coming forward if you are able. I will stand with you, because when we stand together, we are safer and stronger. Our voice is our power. Together, we can finally receive the justice we all deserve.”