Lawmakers Say Alvarez Response to Allegation Not Relevant to Their Hearings

David Cruz, NJTV News | March 13, 2019 | Politics
Former Murphy administration official accused of rape appears before special legislative committee day after his account made public

After months of testimony that painted a sinister picture of a predator who attacked an unsuspecting co-worker, Al Alvarez and his attorney attempted to present an alternative narrative, a day after an explosive Politico story cast doubt on Katie Brennan’s version of events. The tape obtained by Politico from Alvarez’s attorneys represents his first public account of the events.

“I didn’t get any impression that it was uncomfortable for her, that we were doing anything inappropriate sexually. So no, it was all just consensual touching and feeling,” Alvarez said in the tape.

Citing the files obtained from Alvarez’s defense team, the Politico story said Brennan failed to tell the Select Committee that DNA evidence from a rape kit did not match Alvarez, and that she failed to disclose to it that her attorneys had threatened to sue Alvarez for $1.5 million, disclosing only the counter-offer from Alvarez’s attorney. Alvarez called her testimony misleading. Committee members Tuesday said none of this was relevant to their hearings.

“We’ve said from the very beginning that we were not empowered, nor did we plan, to investigate what actually happened that night. I don’t see anything that would change that empowerment, or lack thereof, I should say,” committee co-chair Sen. Loretta Weinberg said.

Brennan’s testimony to prosecutors was consistent with her statements before the committee.

Brennan versus Alvarez

“I said, ‘Why are you doing this?’ Like, ‘Stop, why are you doing this?’ And I got very clinical about it. I even said — it was sort of out-of-body at that point — like this is actually happening. This is crazy that this is happening to me. And I said, I literally uttered the phrase, ‘This is not consensual,’” Brennan said in the tape.

But supporters of Alvarez said his version of the encounter should call into question the rationale for the committee’s formation.

“It’s really down to he-said, she-said at this point. And everyone who testified originally said she had great credibility, so now we’re hearing from Mr. Alvarez. But the committee itself has been charged with looking into the hiring practices and into the EEO compliance during the campaign, transition, and early in the administration and I think that’s what we’re looking into,” said Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz, co-vice chair of the committee.

At an event Tuesday morning, Gov. Phil Murphy steered clear of both the Politico story and the committee’s proceedings.

“We must respect the criminal justice process. We cannot allow, as I’ve said all along, any speck of political interference,” Murphy said.

Neither what Alvarez nor Brennan said about the events of April 2017 will have any bearing on what comes out of the committee, said its members. But in the court of public opinion, at least, Alvarez has finally had his day.