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NJ governor orders review of hiring process after former official accused of sexual assault

NJ governor orders review of hiring process after former official accused of sexual assault
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New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) on Monday ordered an investigation into the hiring process of a former official in his administration who has been accused of sexual assault by a former Murphy volunteer.

"I wish we hadn't made the hire in transition, period," Murphy said during a news conference Monday. "I'm sick to my stomach once I heard what happened." 

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Katie Brennan, the chief of staff for New Jersey's housing agency, has said that Albert Alvarez sexually assaulted her in April 2017, when they were working on Murphy's campaign.

Alvarez was later hired to Murphy's administration and was working as the chief of staff for the New Jersey Schools Development Authority until resigning on Oct. 2. That was the same day The Wall Street Journal emailed him asking for comment about Brennan's allegations.

Murphy said Monday that the investigation will look into why Alvarez was hired to his position even though members of the transition team were made aware of the allegations.

Peter Verniero, a former state attorney general and state Supreme Court justice, will lead the investigation. Murphy said the probe will also include a systemic review of hiring in the transition.

"We will not follow the lead of Washington," he added. "This will be a real investigation, designed to uncover the truth of what happened, wherever it leads."

Murphy also said that the hiring process "did not reflect our values."

“Let me absolutely and unequivocally clear: This should never have happened," he said. "In this instance, the hiring process of the transition did not reflect our values or the seriousness with which we believe allegations of assault should be taken.”