Tired of being publicly pilloried and branded a rapist, Al Alvarez is going on the offensive. During his testimony before a joint legislative committee, he professed his innocence, as he has done since he was accused of sexually assaulting Katie Brennan nearly two years ago.

Those professions have fallen on deaf ears. Now, Alvarez, who has never been charged in the alleged assault, says he is likely to file lawsuits against “multiple parties,” including his accuser.

In an interview with NJ Advance Media, Alvarez blamed Brennan’s allegations for touching off a scandal that has dogged Gov. Phil Murphy and triggered a months-long legislative investigation.

“She created the political firestorm we’re living in right now. That I’m living in right now," Alvarez said in the interview.

He claims her “inaccurate statements” led to his wrongful termination from his job at the Schools Development Authority, made him a public pariah, make it almost impossible to find another job. Alvarez points to newly released video from the Hudson County prosecutor’s office in which Brennan is told DNA and saliva evidence did not match him.

Neither Brennan nor Alvarez deny something happened between them. They both say two ended up on the couch inside her apartment while her husband was traveling overseas for business. The issue is whether whatever did happen was consensual. He says it was. She says it wasn’t. After Brennan’s emotional testimony on Dec. 4, 2018, members of a joint legislative committee called her allegations highly credible. She testified DNA and saliva evidence were recovered by investigators. However, she failed to mention she'd been told they did not match Alvarez, as investigation files now seem to show. That has caused concern among some committee members as hearings into the matter continue.

While the salacious rape allegations have dominated weeks of hearings, the stated purpose of the committee was to investigate the hiring practices of the Murphy administration (and government in general), and suggest meaningful policy changes. To date, that hasn’t happened to any great extent. The committee has tried, and failed, to figure out who hired Alvarez and has been frustrated by the lack of accountability from a parade of current and former Murphy administration and campaign officials. Now, with the Brennan/Alvarez matter devolving into a lawsuit-laden she-said/he-said affair, some committee members are trying to refocus on the hiring issues they are supposed to be focused on.

State Sens. Kristin Corrado and Steve Oroho have sent a letter to Committee Chairwoman Loretta Weinberg, D-Bergen, urging the committee to look into the 17 people fired by Alvarez when he was still chief of staff at the SDA. Corrado and Oroho want to hear from SDA employees who claim in a letter to legislators “personnel files at the authority are being tampered with to conceal 'improper and unethical activities at the SDA.'” Appearing on New Jersey 101.5, Senate President Steve Sweeney said he expected the committee to look deeper into the firings at the SDA, and ultimately he plans to introduce reform legislation.

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