Ex-Murphy official accused of sex assault wins court order
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — A former New Jersey government official accused of sexual assault has won a court order seeking prosecutors’ files on his case.
Albert Alvarez’s attorneys sought a court order requiring the Middlesex County prosecutor to turn over his files from the case involving the allegation against Alvarez brought by Katie Brennan. A judge agreed to the order Friday.
The case has been in the headlines going back to October when Brennan, who is the chief of staff at the state’s housing mortgage agency, came forward with the allegations in a newspaper article.
She says that Alvarez sexually assaulted her in 2017 when they were both working to get Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy elected.
Alvarez, who was chief of staff at the Schools Development Authority until October, has denied any wrongdoing, and Middlesex and Hudson county prosecutors declined to bring criminal charges against him.
The allegations have captured officials’ attention in the statehouse. They led to the formation of a legislative inquiry investigating hiring practices, an internal investigation by Murphy and lawsuits by Brennan against the state and Alvarez.
Alvarez is scheduled to testify before the lawmakers’ panel on Tuesday, but his comments are expected to be limited to hiring practices. Brennan and others have testified that key administration officials were aware of the allegations against Alvarez before he was hired and still brought him aboard.
One unanswered question Alvarez is expected to address Tuesday is who hired him at the six-figure job he held from January through October.
Murphy has said the “buck stops with me” but has not said who hired Alvarez, and other officials also did not pinpoint who hired Alvarez, who worked on Murphy’s campaign in 2017.
The prospects for a criminal prosecution dropped in January when the Middlesex prosecutor said in it found a “lack of credible evidence” in the case and declined to charge Alvarez with a crime.
The allegations were initially investigated by Hudson County prosecutors after Brennan went to authorities there, but the attorney general asked Middlesex to investigate anew when it came out that the Hudson prosecutor knew both Brennan and Alvarez. She added that that didn’t affect the Hudson County prosecutor’s decision not to charge Alvarez.
In response to the judge’s order on Friday, the Middlesex prosecutor said in a court document that it would release witness statements and “investigative reports.” But prosecutors added the court should not release confidential documents like records obtained in the grand jury process, health records and other confidential records.
Brennan’s attorney Kathryn McClure said in a court filing that she objects to the release of any medical information and asked that all documents be kept out of public view.