Prosecutors told Brennan: DNA doesn’t match accused rapist Alvarez
TRENTON — Newly released video shows Hudson County prosecutors telling Murphy administration staffer Katie Brennan that DNA evidence they collected didn't match the man she accuses of raping her.
Brennan has alleged Albert Alvarez raped her in her home on April 8, 2017, when they both worked for Phil Murphy's gubernatorial campaign — several months before they both took jobs in his administration. She said she told several officials with the campaign and later the administration, but he was nonetheless allowed to take and hold onto a high-ranking post for months.
He eventually resigned from his post as chief of staff of the New Jersey Schools Development Authority but has said a sexual encounter between them was entirely consensual. He has never been charged with a crime.
The Hudson County Prosecutor's Office told Brennan in early December 2017 that they it declined to file charges. According to Brennan's account, first published in the Wall Street Journal, Assistant Prosecutor Jane Weiner told her the sexual assault examination found DNA evidence, but it was deemed "not strong enough."
In a videotaped interview from October of 2017, obtained by Alvarez's attorneys last week and published Monday by Politico, Weiner tells Brennan: "I’m sure as you know it’s very hard in he-said, she-said cases. That’s why we look for DNA. We’re not suggesting this didn’t happen. I’m not suggesting that we don’t believe you. They’re just very difficult to prosecute.”
Alvarez has never denied having sexual contact with Brennan. According to an NJ.com account of the videos, he told prosecutors he "felt bad" because "she clearly felt bad," about having a sexual encounter with him despite being married. He said she "never said stop until the very end" and described their encounter as "all just consensual touching and feeling but again, all over the clothes."
In a statement Tuesday, Brennan's said Alvarez had "presented a deceptive and incomplete story to Politico."
"The article, as the writers themselves acknowledge, relies on only a partial review of the case file presented to them. I look forward to the full story finally being laid bare in the months to come as I continue to fight for the justice I have been denied to date,” she said in the statement, provided by a spokesperson.
Alvarez was testifying before state lawmakers Tuesday but under the conditions of agreement announced last week, lawmakers were not expected to ask about the allegations of sexual assault. Instead, they were to focus on hiring practices in the Murphy administration after several high-ranking officials said in previous testimony they weren't sure who'd hired Alvarez or why he wasn't dismissed even when the allegations were known by several officials.
Alvarez's attorney told Politico New Jersey that the release of the video and investigation files will help to repair his reputation.
Politico said attorneys for Alvarez turned over 30 CDs containing videos and audio of prosecutors’ interviews with witnesses, but the publication has not yet been able to review them all.
Video posted by Politico shows Brennan's interview with a Hudson detective in which she said that Alvarez made continued advances toward her on the ride to her home from a campaign event.
She said she rejected those advances and let Alvarez into her home when he asked to use the bathroom. She said she made herself popcorn once they were inside, and Alvarez began making advances again. She said she repeatedly told him "no."
"I said like ‘Why are you doing this? Stop doing this,’ and I got very clinical about it,“ the publication quotes her telling investigators. “I even said it was sort of out of body at this point, this is actually happening, this is crazy. I literally uttered the phrase ‘this is not consensual.‘ I was like, how many times do I need to say no?"
According to Brennan, Alvarez "tore off" her pans and removed her underwear before she was able to escape and lock herself in the bathroom while she insisted he leave.
She also told investigators she didn't know whose DNA could be in the evidence they'd collected, if not Alvarez's. She said her husband had been in Sweden for a month, but would be willing to submit to a DNA test to demonstrate the evidence collected didn't match him.
Brennan is currently chief of staff at the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency.
Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez has defended her office's handling of the case. She has said that she knew who both Alvarez and Brennan were but did not know about the allegations until her staff had decided not to pursue charges. After Brennan went to the media, her office's investigation of the Brennan allegations was reviewed by the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office, which also declined to charge Alvarez.
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