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Victim of Smear says Cipel

New Jersey- A former aide to New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey charged yesterday that the disgraced governor made repeated sexual advances toward him – and retaliated with full fury when he was turned down.

At a Manhattan press conference the day after McGreevey resigned and announced he is gay, lawyer Allen Lowy read a blistering statement from client Golan Cipel. The one-time homeland security adviser to McGreevey said he was a victim of both the governor’s sexual harassment and an organized “smear campaign.”

“While employed by one of the most powerful politicians in the country, New Jersey Governor McGreevey, I was the victim of repeated sexual advances by him,” Cipel said in his statement, which Lowy read outside John Jay Criminal College.

“When I finally dared to reject Governor McGreevey’s advances, the retaliatory actions taken by him and members of his administration were nothing short of abuse and intimidation.”

Cipel’s charges that he was being hit with a smear campaign came after aides to McGreevey accused him of trying to extort $5 million from the governor by threatening to go public.

A frenzy of speculation over whether Cipel would file a lawsuit against McGreevey was quashed when Lowy said “only time will tell” if any legal action would be taken.

But since Cipel left state government on Aug. 14, 2002, the two-year statute of limitations expires today.

In his own comments, Lowy said that McGreevey’s representatives offered Cipel hush money after the governor was informed that Cipel might file a sexual-harassment lawsuit.

“It was Mr. McGreevey’s representatives who, without provocation, offered a sum of money to make my client go away,” Lowy said. “But money was never the ultimate goal in my client’s search for justice.”

Cipel said in his statement that because of McGreevey’s power it was understandable that he couldn’t “disentangle” himself “from such an oppressive environment and from such a manipulative person.”

“I’ve come to understand that I was a victim and just as importantly, I was the victim whose oppressor was one of the most powerful politicians and made sure to let me know my future was in his hands,” Cipel said.

“Therefore, I’ve come to realize that my lack of strength was understandable,” he continued.

Cipel, a 35-year-old Israeli, didn’t attend the news conference. His whereabouts were not known yesterday.

While McGreevey admitted at a Trenton press conference on Thursday to engaging in “an adult, consensual affair with another man,” Cipel’s statement did not explicitly acknowledge any relationship.

McGreevey spokesman Micah Rasmussen was quick to dismiss all of Cipel’s allegations.

“These are completely and totally false allegations from a person trying to exploit his relationship with the governor,” Rasmussen said in a statement. “The matter has been referred to federal authorities for investigation.”

A senior adviser in McGreevey’s camp added, “These are false accusations from an extortionist.”

Cipel said he felt “somewhat vindicated” by McGreevey’s resignation, which is effective Nov. 15. “After a long period of pain and introspection, I realized that in order to live my life – to move forward with my life – I needed to put this behind me,” Cipel said.

“But the only way to do this was to have Governor McGreevey take responsibility publicly for his horrible actions, which he did by resigning from public office. I am somewhat vindicated to see the person who abused his power take responsibility for the harm he has caused.”

Cipel’s bombshell accusations came just more than 24 hours after McGreevey announced to the country that he was gay and would resign because of an illicit affair with another man.

McGreevey did not name the man, but several sources close to the governor said it was Cipel.

The professional relationship between the 47-year-old Jersey-born pol and the Israeli was shrouded in controversy from the very beginning, when McGreevey appointed Cipel to the state Office of Homeland Security in 2002, despite concerns over Cipel’s qualifications.

From there, McGreevey paved the way to land Cipel jobs in both the public and private sectors until their professional and personal relationship exploded on Thursday afternoon.

Meanwhile, McGreevey huddled with a close group of advisers at the governor’s mansion in Princeton yesterday before bolting out of a town with his family for the weekend.

An aide to McGreevey said the governor called the morning sit-down to discuss the public reaction to his shocking announcement, and that he was pleased with how the hastily arranged press conference came off.

“He accomplished what he wanted to do,” Hank Sheinkopf said, “which was to protect his family and make for a smooth and orderly transition when he leaves the governor’s mansion.”

McGreevey left the mansion in a jacket and tie around 4 p.m. and headed north with a woman identified as his daughter’s nanny and the nanny’s assistant.

The family is going out of town for the weekend “to come to terms with whatever they want to come to terms with,” said George Zoffinger, a close friend of McGreevey’s since 1990 and the CEO of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority.

Zoffinger claimed that he’d had no idea about McGreevey’s sexuality and that the governor hadn’t even informed his family until Wednesday.

Zoffinger also alleged that Cipel’s lawyers were feverishly calling McGreevey’s camp in the minutes before his press conference in an attempt to reach a financial settlement.

“It’s extortion, and the governor did not want to be put in that position,” Zoffinger said.



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