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N.J. Official Sues State, Alleged Attacker Over Rape Allegations

TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) – A senior New Jersey official who says she was sexually assaulted by a former aide to Gov. Phil Murphy is suing her alleged attacker and the state.

Last month, Katie Brennan, the chief of staff for New Jersey's housing finance agency, testified before state lawmakers that Albert Alvarez raped her in 2017, when they were both working on the Murphy campaign. She said she reported the crime but little was done.

Alvarez has denied the allegation.

"She pursued every avenue she could ... waved every red flag she could access, and she was ignored. As Ms. Brennan has said, if she cannot get justice through currently available complaint systems, who can?" Brennan's attorney Katy McClure said in a statement.

More: Senior N.J. Government Official Says She Was Raped By Staffer While Working For Gov. Murphy's Campaign

Brennan's suit argues that officials tied to Murphy's transition — who later got jobs in the administration — failed to follow proper state policies for handling her allegations.

The suit asks the court to release her from a requirement for confidentiality as the administration probes the matter. Brennan said in a statement that such requirements fail accusers and protect the accused.

She first filed a notice that she might sue last week.

The lawsuit is separate from a legislative inquiry into the Murphy team's handling of the claims. Legislators have been holding public hearings on the matter, with another set for Tuesday.

Brennan has testified before lawmakers that despite coming forward to police, prosecutors and the governor's transition team, Alvarez was still hired to work in the administration.

"I feared running into Mr. Alvarez and I did see him repeatedly," she testified last month. "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."

Last month, another hearing revealed that Murphy's chief of staff and chief counsel both directed Alvarez to seek other employment, but they stopped short of firing him.

Chief of staff Pete Cammarano told lawmakers he thought it was clear Alvarez should leave, though he stayed on until the newspaper story was about to be published in October.

After Brennan's claims became public, Murphy said he wished Alvarez wasn't hired but he defended how his transition team and administration acted.

He also appointed former state Supreme Court Justice Peter Verniero to investigate the matter and asked the state's Division of Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action to review administration policies.

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

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