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Former N.J. Official Accused Of Raping Murphy Campaign Volunteer Will Not Face Charges

TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) – A former aide to Gov. Phil Murphy accused of raping another member of his campaign will not face charges.

Katie Brennan, chief of staff to the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency, accused Albert Alvarez of sexually assaulting her while they both worked for Murphy's campaign in 2017.

Brennan was a volunteer for the campaign at the time, officials say.

Alvarez, the administration's former director of Latin and Muslim outreach, has denied any wrongdoing.

The Middlesex County prosecutor's office said Wednesday he will not face criminal charges, citing "a lack of credible evidence."

"Due to a lack of credible evidence and corroboration that a crime was committed, the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office will not be filing any criminal charges in this matter," the office said in a statement.

Earlier this month, Brennan testified before lawmakers, saying that despite coming forward to police, prosecutors and members of the governor's transition team, Alvarez was still hired to work for the administration. She also filed a lawsuit against Alvarez and the state.

"I feared running into Mr. Alvarez and I did see him repeatedly," she said. "I continued to work with the Murphy campaign because I did not want to let the assault stand in the way of me working for the campaign and Gov. Murphy's administration. As a victim of sexual assault, I should not be the one to give up my career goals in favor of the career goals of my rapist."

Murphy has defended his administration's handling of the allegations, which included his chief counsel alerting the office's ethics adviser. But he also has said he wishes Alvarez was never hired to work in the administration after the campaign. Who hired Alvarez is not clear.

Murphy's chief of staff and chief counsel asked Alvarez to leave in March and June, but they stopped short of firing him. He left when it was clear that the Wall Street Journal was about to publish an account of Brennan's accusations in October.

The fallout from the accusation has led to a legislative committee investigation into Murphy's handling of Brennan's allegations.

It also led to the review by the Middlesex prosecutor, ordered by Attorney General Gurbir Grewal after the Hudson County prosecutor initially failed to bring charges and when the Hudson prosecutor recused herself after she realized she knew both the accuser and accused. She added that that did not affect the decision not to bring charges.

The Middlesex prosecutor has not detailed what it did in its review, but the office said it conducted an independent review of criminal allegations and declined to bring charges.

"We are deeply disturbed and disappointed by this egregious miscarriage of justice," Brennan's attorney, Katy McClure, said in a statement. "The Hudson County Prosecutor's Office failed Katie Brennan. The governor's staff failed her. The attorney general failed her. And now the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office has failed her as well."

Murphy has also hired former state Supreme Court Justice Peter Verniero to review his administration's handling of the case. Murphy said Wednesday he did not know when Verniero's review would be done.

"I would hope it's imminent," he said at an unrelated event earlier Wednesday.

(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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