New Jersey- Golan Cipel, the Israeli with whom New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey claims he had an affair, is straight and was sexually assaulted by the politician on more than a dozen occasions, Cipel’s lawyers told The Post in an interview last night.
“Golan is a heterosexual,” attorney Allen Lowy claimed. “There was no affair. There was no consensual touching. There was no physical relationship.”
Although Lowy declined to reveal specifics of the alleged harassment, citing the possibility of a lawsuit against McGreevey, he did say that the disgraced New Jersey governor “physically touched” Cipel, 35, in an “unquestionably inappropriate” manner at least 12 times.
The alleged assaults began while Cipel was working on McGreevey’s gubernatorial transition team in late 2001 and ended in August 2002, when the governor “pushed Golan out of his job,” Lowy said.
The lawyer’s comments directly contradict McGreevey’s statements at a Thursday press conference in which he admitted he was gay and said: “Shamefully, I engaged in adult consensual affairs with another man.”
Reached late last night, McGreevey’s spokesman, Micah Rasmussen, denied Lowy’s claims, saying, “The governor stands by his statement he made Thursday.”
In an hourlong interview, Lowy and fellow attorney Rachel Yosevitz laid out Cipel’s version of his relationship with the governor – a relationship that they say began when McGreevey, then the mayor of Woodbridge, was in Israel with other American officials.
McGreevey and Cipel first met in Rishon Lezion in 1999 or 2000, according to the lawyers, when Cipel was working as a press liaison to Mayor Meir Nitzan.
The then-mayor sat down next to Cipel on a bus carrying the American dignitaries and while engaging in friendly chit-chat became impressed with Cipel’s knowledge of New Jersey, which he picked up while working at the Israeli consulate in New York in the late 1990s.
McGreevey immediately asked Cipel if he’d like to work on his gubernatorial campaign, telling him to “make sure he gave Kathy a call,” an apparent reference to McGreevey’s secretary.
By 2001, Cipel was in the states, working on McGreevey’s campaign.
All was apparently fine during the campaign, but McGreevey’s harassment began almost immediately after he was elected, Cipel’s lawyers maintain.
The governor continued to assault Cipel until August 2002, when McGreevey, 47, committed an especially egregious act of harassment, Lowy says. According to a published report, however, McGreevey’s camp maintains his relationship with Cipel ended in early spring 2002.
“That was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” said Lowy, who told The Post that he is not a litigator who tries cases in court.
He lives in New York in the same building as Cipel, and is reportedly not licensed to practice in New Jersey.
But when Cipel told his boss “This has got to stop,” McGreevey allegedly accused Cipel of “overreacting.”
After Cipel left state government, he and McGreevey only crossed paths on “two or three occasions,” although they did speak more regularly on the telephone, his lawyers said.
But on July 23, Lowy says he informed McGreevey’s staff that he planned to file a lawsuit against the governor for his alleged inappropriate conduct toward Cipel.
That set off a flurry of negotiations between Lowy and an assortment of officials from McGreevey’s office that ended a mere 30 minutes before McGreevey came out live to the world at the Thursday’s press conference.
Although Lowy refused to talk about specific numbers, sources close to the governor claimed that Cipel’s camp first demanded a staggering $50 million, then dropped the demands to $5 million and then to $2 million to make the sex-harassment suit go away.
But sources said Cipel added a surprise demand: that the governor allow Manhattan-based Touro College to go ahead with plans to build a medical school in New Jersey.
“This immediately raised eyebrows,” one of the sources said, because it suggested a link between Cipel and ex-New Jersey Sen. Robert Torricelli, who is Touro’s lead adviser on the project.
The source said McGreevey aides asked themselves: “What does Cipel have to do with Torricelli?”
The talks broke off minutes before McGreevey announced he was resigning.
“The governor doesn’t have that kind of money, and he will not be extorted,” the source said.
But Lowy claimed that a deal had already been struck on the financial particulars and that he was awaiting word on whether McGreevey had agreed to other unspecified conditions when the lawyer’s secretary came in to tell him that the governor was on TV.
Sean Jackson, a vice president of Rosemont Associates, a consulting firm run by Torricelli, said the company has been advising Touro on opening a medical school in the state since December 2003.
“During this time, Cipel has never been present at any meeting. He has never been involved in any conference calls. We’ve never talked to the guy,” Jackson said. “We find the whole thing bizarre.”
Asked where Cipel is currently hunkering down, Lowy would only say that his client was “in the country.”