Katie Brennan to testify on sex assault charge against ex-Murphy staffer at hearing next month

The special legislative investigatory committee will also invite Albert J. Alvarez, whom Brennan has accused of rape, to appear.

Katie Brennan, the New Jersey official who accused another high-ranking staffer in the Murphy administration of rape during the 2017 campaign, will be the first witness to testify before a special legislative committee looking into government hiring practices.

Brennan, chief of staff at the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency, has accepted the committee’s invitation to appear on Dec. 4, said Senate Majority Leader and committee co-chairwoman Loretta Weinberg, D-Bergen.

The special investigatory committee held its first, brief meeting Thursday to adopt rules and procedures for its work in reviewing the administration’s screening of potential employees and handling of Brennan’s rape allegation against Albert J. Alvarez, who resigned in October as chief of staff to the Schools Development Authority.

The committee will also invite Alvarez to appear, Weinberg said.

The Legislature’s investigation is one of four lines of inquiry stemming from Brennan’s allegation. Gov. Phil Murphy has launched reviews of how prosecutors investigate sexual assault, state policies on allegations of sexual misconduct, and an internal investigation of Alvarez’s hiring.

This is Katie Brennan.

The committee is empowered to compel witnesses to testify and produce records. Attorneys for the committee have already distributed a memo to administration and transition officials requesting they preserve documents related to the investigation.

The list of recipients was not immediately made publicly available. 

Records related to the investigation will be accessible only to members of the bipartisan committee on a secure platform, Weinberg said Thursday.

“This is a fact-finding committee that will work to get a full and fair accounting of what happened or what didn’t happen in the hiring practices that allowed government employees accused of sexual assault and other alleged misconduct to evade accountability,” Weinberg said.

“We need to determine what can be done to screen out those who pose a threat and what can be done to assure that sexual assault survivors are treated with respect and compassion so that they and the rest of us can trust our government.”

Brennan has said Alvarez raped her in her apartment after a campaign gathering in Jersey City last year. He was working for the campaign and she was a supporter at the time. Brennan said she notified or attempted to notify Murphy’s inner circle, but Alvarez was hired on by the transition and then the administration.

Alvarez has not been charged with a crime and through his attorney has denied the allegations. 

He resigned Oct. 2, the same day he was contacted by a Wall Street Journal reporter.

Murphy has said he respects the Legislature’s inquiry.

“I think if their objectives are the same as ours, and I have no reason to believe they’re not,” he said last month. “That (is) making this a much better reality for the survivor for a sexual assault, then I’m all in and completely respect what they are doing.”

Samantha Marcus may be reached at smarcus@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @samanthamarcus. Find NJ.com Politics on Facebook.


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