Sweeney Forms Senate Select Committee On Investigation; Assembly Will Join

Senate President Steve Sweeney released a response to Gov. Phil Murphy's letter regarding the current draft of the NJ 2020 budget, a draft of which was sent from the NJ Legislature sent to Murphy for review.

Saying he expects the ‘full cooperation of the administration’, Senate President Steve Sweeney today announced the creation of a special Senate Select Committee to investigate the handling of the sexual assault allegations against a former high-level state official, examine government hiring practices and background checks, and conduct a review of the criminal justice system’s procedures for responding to allegations of sexual assault, abuse and harassment.  The Assembly later in the afternoon that they will join the committee, said Speaker Coughlin in a statement

The six-member, bipartisan Senate Select Committee on Investigation will examine the hiring practices and background checks by the government to determine what reforms are needed to prevent abusers from escaping accountability and will conduct a review of systemic problems so that survivors can trust in the ability to achieve justice.

Senator Sweeney named Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg the committee chair and appointed Senator Sandra Cunningham, Senator M. Teresa Ruiz, Senator Fred Madden, Senator Steve Oroho and Senator Kristin Corrado as members.

Weinberg previously called for the formation of a legislative panel to conduct an inquiry into how sexual assaults are addressed, while Corrado introduced a resolution to create a legislative committee.  Corrado released a statement praising the select committee’s formation; Senate Minority Leader Kean released a statement as well, calling it the ‘right step’.  Senator Oroho released a statement saying that being named to the committee is a ‘great responsibility that I take very seriously’.  

‘The account of the assault on Ms. Brennan was heart wrenching and repulsive,’ proclaimed Senator Sweeney. “And the repeated failures of authorities to hear her voice and respond to her attempts to achieve justice made me frustrated and angry. We need a full accounting of what went wrong and what needs to be done so that sexual survivors are heard, that they are treated with respect and compassion, and that they can trust the system to provide justice.”

According to the release from the Senate Majority Office, Senator Weinberg indicated that she wants the committee to examine the practices and procedures of police officers, prosecutors, the courts and defense attorneys, and that she would like to hear from survivors and the advocates who assist them. The committee’s work would also help determine the need for stronger laws, special training for police officers and court officials, and additional safeguards to ensure the proper treatment of assault survivors.

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