Katie Brennan, a former staffer for Gov. Phil Murphy's campaign, has settled her rape lawsuit against the state and Murphy's campaign for $1 million. In her lawsuit, Brennan alleged that her rape allegations against another campaign worker were not investigated.
In October 2018, Brennan went public with her accusations against former campaign adviser Albert Alvarez. Brennan, now the chief of staff to the Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency, said she was attacked by Alvarez in her apartment after a campaign gathering in April 2017.
Rape Allegations 'Mishandled'
The lawsuit also included allegations that despite having alerted high-ranking campaign officials, including Murphy and his wife Tammy about the rape, the administration did not act on it and hired Alvarez anyway. The accused denied any wrongdoing, was never arrested and two county prosecutors who reviewed the case declined to prosecute.
These accusations led to a legislative panel investigating how Murphy's administration responded to the rape allegations and released a scathing report accusing senior officials of mishandling the accusation, misleading lawmakers and failing Brennan as an accuser. The report found that Murphy's campaign was more concerned about "avoiding negative publicity" than taking proper steps to investigate Brennan's rape allegations.
Brennan's case received widespread attention and sparked a debate in Trenton over non-disclosure agreements in campaigns, how sexual assault cases are being handled in state government and an underlying culture of sexual harassment and misogyny in New Jersey politics.
Lawsuit Settled for $1M
The state of New Jersey, and Murphy for Governor, Inc. will pay a total of $1 million, out of which $600,000 will go to the Waterfront Project, a non-profit that helps low-income sexual assault victims and the remaining $400,000 to her attorneys, according to NJ.com.
"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 during his daily press briefing in Trenton on Friday.
"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," he added.
Alvarez will have to participate in a "restorative justice program" and undergo an anti-sexual harassment class in addition to a facilitated meeting with Brennan within six months as part of the settlement, the report said. The former Murphy aide resigned from his position as chief of staff at the Schools Development Authority in the wake of the scandal.