New Jersey, Murphy campaign agree to pay $1M to settle rape accusation against ex-aide

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The state of New Jersey and Gov. Phil Murphy’s campaign agreed Friday to pay $1 million in a lawsuit brought by a state employee who alleged a campaign aide raped her in 2017.

Katie Brennan, chief of staff of the state’s housing finance agency, accused Murphy’s then-campaign chief of staff Albert Alvarez of raping her on April 8, 2017, after Alvarez drove her home from a campaign event while they were both working to get Murphy elected. Alvarez left as the chief of staff of the Schools Development Authority in October 2018 when a news account of the accusation was about to come out.

Alvarez has denied the allegations and wasn’t criminally charged, but it sparked monthslong investigations by Murphy’s team and lawmakers.

STAFFER WHO ALLEGEDLY RAPED CO-WORKER ON DEM GOV. PHIL MURPHY’S CAMPAIGN WON’T FACE CHARGES, PROSECUTORS SAY

“I think it’s a fair and reasonable settlement. We’ve worked collaboratively and constructively with Katie and her team to institute meaningful reforms to support survivors in the workplace,” Murphy said, according to NorthJersey.com. “We look forward to continuing our work on these issues to make New Jersey a leading state for survivor-centric policies as we have been doing now for a long time.”

“I think it’s a fair and reasonable settlement.”

— New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy

Gov. Phil Murphy, D-N.J., listens to President Donald Trump speak during a meeting about the coronavirus response in the Oval Office of the White House, Thursday, April 30, 2020, in Washington. (Associated Press)

Gov. Phil Murphy, D-N.J., listens to President Donald Trump speak during a meeting about the coronavirus response in the Oval Office of the White House, Thursday, April 30, 2020, in Washington. (Associated Press)

No money will go to Brennan, officials said: $600,000 will go to a charity she selected that helps low-income survivors of sexual assault and $400,000 will go to pay her attorneys.

As part of the settlement, Brennan and Alvarez will have a meeting through a facilitator and he will attend an anti-sexual harassment class.

“All survivors deserve the excellent support I had,” Brennan said in a news release Friday. “I hope to create that support for others so that a lack of legal representation is never a barrier to justice.”

“I hope that this can create a model program for other New Jersey survivors,” she added. “Living in silence did not serve me or any other survivors in this state. Speaking out gave me great strength.”

“Living in silence did not serve me or any other survivors in this state. Speaking out gave me great strength.”

— Katie Brennan

Katie Brennan, left, chief of staff at the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency, listens while testifying before the Select Oversight Committee at the Statehouse in Trenton, N.J., Dec. 4, 2018. (Associated Press)

Katie Brennan, left, chief of staff at the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency, listens while testifying before the Select Oversight Committee at the Statehouse in Trenton, N.J., Dec. 4, 2018. (Associated Press)

Brennan filed a police report at the time, but prosecutors said no charges would be filed because of “a lack of credible evidence.”

In June 2018, The Wall Street Journal reported, Brennan emailed Murphy and his wife, asking to speak with them about a “sensitive matter” that had occurred the previous year.

Meeting never happened

Although Brennan did not specify the nature of the matter, Murphy responded within an hour and said he would schedule a meeting to talk with Brennan, The Journal reported.

“Hang in,” Murphy wrote to Brennan. “We are on it.”

But the meeting never happened, and there were no ramifications for Alvarez, the paper reported.

In October 2018, both of New Jersey’s legislative houses voted to start a special commission to look into why Alvarez then scored a $140,000-per-year job in Murphy’s administration.

Brennan sued the state over its handling of her allegation, which she reported to officials in the governor’s transition and administration. She has said the administration botched its response to her claims, which officials have testified that they found to be credible.

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Alvarez filed a countersuit alleging his reputation was destroyed by her claim. The countersuit was resolved in the settlement. Neither party admitted any wrongdoing.

He claimed the two had a consensual encounter, according to NorthJersey.com.

Fox News’ Gregg Re and the Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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