McGreevey ex-aide Golan Cipel drops harassment suit
August 31 2004 11:00 PM ET
A former aide to New Jersey governor James E. McGreevey who claims he was sexually harassed by the governor says he won't sue, apparently eliminating the prospect of an embarrassing court fight. The aide, Golan Cipel, said Monday that McGreevey's resignation announcement was sufficient admission of his wrongdoing and he wished to spare New Jersey taxpayers the financial burden of any damages. "Despite my strong desire to prove my case in a court of law, I have decided not to proceed with my suit," Cipel said in a statement. "The main reason is the governor's resignation and his admission of his acts. It's clear to all that McGreevey resigned because he sexually harassed me and that a man of his standing would not have resigned because of sexual orientation or having had an extramarital affair." Cipel, 35, was in seclusion with his family in his native Israel. The statement was written in Hebrew and released Monday by an Israeli public relations agency.
McGreevey, 47, announced August 12 that he is gay and would resign from office November 15 because of an extramarital affair he had had with a man. The governor, who has said the relationship was consensual, has not named the man with whom he was involved. Administration sources identified that person as Cipel. But Cipel, McGreevey's former homeland security adviser, denied he is gay and insisted that he had been sexually harassed and pressured by the governor from the time he first went to work for him. A spokesman for the governor said Cipel's announcement came as no surprise. The spokesman, Micah Rasmussen, also dismissed as "nonsense" Cipel's claim that he would have won if a lawsuit had gone to court. "The governor made clear that he did not want to put the people of New Jersey at risk, he did not want to expose the state to the threat of a lawsuit," Rasmussen said.
By apparently eliminating the prospect of an embarrassing lawsuit, Cipel's decision could ease pressure on McGreevey to resign before September 3 to allow a special election. If the governor resigns after that date, state senate president Richard Codey, a fellow Democrat, will succeed him and serve until McGreevey's term expires in early 2006. Legal experts said Cipel's lawyer, Allen Lowy, had until Monday to file a sexual harassment lawsuit because the statute of limitations for such complaints is two years and Cipel left the state payroll at the end of August 2002.
McGreevey's supporters were not surprised by Cipel's decision. "They never made any factual basis for any claim," Democratic state senator Raymond Lesniak said. "All they did was demand money and say they would charge the governor with sexual assault and harassment." Others, like David Rebovich, a Rider University political scientist, wondered if the former aide bluffed McGreevey into announcing that he was gay and would resign. "New Jerseyans are left with the unappealing prospect that one man who is not a New Jersey citizen, not even an American citizen, might have forced a governor elected with 56% of the vote out of office," he said.
Meanwhile, Republicans continued to demand that McGreevey resign early and allow for a special election. On Monday the New Jersey delegation to the Republican National Convention unanimously passed a resolution calling for his immediate departure. Cipel's decision "doesn't change anything as far as we're concerned," GOP chairman Joseph Kyrillos said.