New Jersey, Governor’s campaign, staffer will pay $1M to end suit over alleged rape
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Tuesday, May 19, 2020

New Jersey, Governor’s campaign, staffer will pay $1M to end suit over alleged rape

By WK Editorial Staff

The $600,000 earmarked for the alleged victim will go to a nonprofit to fund legal services and support for low-income survivors of sexual assault and harassment.

Under a settlement agreement announced on May 15, the State of New Jersey, Murphy for Governor, Inc., and a former staffer will pay $1 million to a woman who alleged in October 2018 that she had been raped by the staffer when he was a senior member of Governor Phil Murphy’s 2017 gubernatorial campaign staff. The plaintiff filed her lawsuit suit in January 2019. According to media reports, she works in Murphy’s administration.

Released from NDA. A key point of contention in the lawsuit involved confidentiality requirements that prevented the alleged victim from speaking publicly throughout much of the past two years, according to her attorneys. In a February victory, attorneys for Murphy for Governor, Inc., agreed to the entry of a consent order permitting anyone who signed a non-disclosure agreement with the Murphy campaign to be free to disclose facts relating to the campaign’s employment policies, practices, or procedures, their personal experience and treatment, and the work environment on the campaign.

Settlement funds. From the $1 million settlement, $600,000 will go to the alleged victim and $400,000 will go to her attorneys at Smith Eibeler, LLC. The alleged victim will donate the $600,000 to The Waterfront Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting Hudson County, New Jersey’s economically disadvantaged—the working poor, seniors, veterans, and those living with disabilities—by providing information, advice, and pro bono legal representation to address their civil legal issues and concerns. The Waterfront Project will use the donation to fund legal services and support for low-income survivors of sexual assault and harassment.

Policy changes. The State of New Jersey has also agreed to a number of the plaintiff’s recommendations for changes to state policy, including allowing alleged victims of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation to have an advisor or other support person present during interviews by an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Investigator. The state will also assist her in her efforts to present additional proposed reforms related to the criminal justice system to New Jersey’s Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Council.

As part of the settlement, the accused will participate in a restorative justice process with the plaintiff.

"I hope that this can create a model program for other New Jersey survivors," said the alleged victim. "Living in silence did not serve me or any other survivors in this state. Speaking out gave me great strength. From legislation and the release from NDAs, to greater awareness of harassment and assault, we’ve made great progress. Each reform sets us on a path toward justice. Each reform makes it worth the pain."

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