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Thursday, July 22, 2010

[NY] Sherr-una Booker's soul searching leads her to take a stand - regardless of who her ex's friends are

Sherr-una Booker, the woman at the center of the scandal that crippled New York State Governor David Paterson's administration is breaking her silence - and demanding prosecutors charge one of his former top aides [David Johnson]... Booker said she's coming forward now "after a lot of soul searching and praying... I don't want any woman to go through what I went through"...

Division of Criminal Justice Services Commissioner Denise O'Donnell in her March resignation statement:
"...It is hard to imagine a higher potential for reprisal than [Sherr-una Booker] being contacted - in this case, three times - by the State Police on behalf of your attacker and then, ultimately, by the state's most powerful politician..."

New York Daily News
BY Adam Lisberg
July 22nd 2010
[Excerpts] The woman at the center of the scandal that crippled Gov. Paterson's administration is breaking her silence - and demanding prosecutors charge one of his former top aides. Sherr-una Booker, who dropped her first abuse complaint against boyfriend David Johnson after a talk with Paterson, said she is following through now because she wants the truth to be told. "It's the right thing to do... I don't want any woman to go through what I went through... You're in shock. You're overwhelmed. You're fearful," Booker said. "It's not okay for anyone to put their hands on anyone else. It's not okay for some woman to be fearful. It's just not okay. Speak up. Stand up." Booker first called the NYPD on Halloween night when the 6-foot-7 Johnson allegedly grabbed her, ripped her clothes and slammed her against a dresser in their Bronx apartment, according to the police report... "Surprising. Shocking. Hurtful. Hurtful down to your soul... You trust this individual, and you love. You just don't love overnight. You've built something. And it's just shocking... It is very vivid in my mind... The truth will come out"... [Full article here]

WOMAN AT CENTER OF GOV. PATERSON AIDE SCANDAL WANTS "JUSTICE": Exclusive report as Sherr-una Booker vows to refile charges against David Johnson
By Jonathan Dienst, Alice Mcquillan
Thu, Jul 22, 2010
[Excerpts] ...Sherr-una Booker vowed to again pursue charges against the man who once was Governor Paterson's closest aide... [Sherr-una] remained mum about Paterson, under investigation along with the state police for allegedly trying to shield aide David Johnson by derailing a previous domestic violence case against him. Booker said that she wants Johnson, her former live-in boyfriend, to be held criminally responsible for allegedly assaulting her last October in their Bronx home. "I will be refilling my charges as soon as possible," said Booker, who had lived with Johnson for four years... Booker said she's coming forward now "after a lot of soul searching and praying."  She credited other women who had been abused by their boyfriends for supporting her, especially a co-worker at her hospital job who stayed with a man who broke her arm. "She didn't speak out for years... And it kind of gave me the courage to come forth and speak for other women that maybe didn't feel that they would be heard, or weren't important enough to speak up... It's the right thing to do.  I don't want any woman to go through what I went through." Finding herself in the media and political spotlight has been a "horrible experience," she said.  But she told her story to WNBC and the Daily News in her lawyer's office because she said she wanted to raise awareness of the issue of domestic violence.  But she said it was tough being followed by reporters day and night for months... She said she's also kept her faith in the future. "Being a Christian," she said. "I always expect the truth to come out."  [Full article here]


...She said state troopers "kept calling and harassing me to drop the charges." Suddenly, on Feb. 8, she did. Booker, 40, abandoned her case against Johnson after receiving a telephone call from [Governor David] Paterson...

Governor David A Paterson, 
and his then-top Aide 
David W Johnson

Huffington Post
Colleen Long
[Excerpts] Sherruna Booker said she wasn't sure her domestic-violence case against her boyfriend, a top adviser to Gov. David Paterson, would be taken seriously by city court officials. "I'm just – I'm glad you're doing this because I thought it was going to be swept under the table because he's like a government official," Booker told a Family Court official ordering a restraining order on Nov. 2, two days after she reported a violent argument with David Johnson about a Halloween costume. She said state troopers "kept calling and harassing me to drop the charges." Suddenly, on Feb. 8, she did. Booker, 40, abandoned her case against Johnson after receiving a telephone call from Paterson, The New York Times reported. Paterson's office acknowledges he talked to the woman but says she placed the call, and a spokesman for the governor has denied anyone tried to keep the woman from pursuing a domestic-violence case. State police say they won't comment on the case while it's being investigated by Attorney General Andrew Cuomo... Family Court transcripts obtained by the AP show a woman who says she's a victim of domestic violence trying to follow official legal procedures but suddenly abandoning her efforts. "You have bruises on your arms?" the court official, called a court attorney referee, asks Booker. "Yes," she replies. Booker appeared in Family Court three times after she filed a police report Oct. 31 saying Johnson had choked her, thrown her against a mirror and tried to rip her Halloween costume from her body at her Bronx home... [Full article here]

WHAT IS NEXT FOR PATERSON?: The governor's role in a scandal about a top aide draws calls from Democrats to halt his race
Times Union
By Jimmy Vielkind
February 26, 2010
[Excerpts] A burgeoning scandal involving one of Gov. David Paterson's closest aides has paralyzed the Capitol, and is causing the governor to re-evaluate whether to continue his nascent campaign. Several prominent Democrats called on Paterson to suspend his electoral bid, with some suggesting it was time for the party to rally around Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. Sen. Liz Krueger, vice chair of the Senate Finance Committee, said she had "great concerns" about Paterson, and proposed that Lieutenant Governor Richard Ravitch assume "primary responsibilities" in developing the state's $134 billion spending plan, which is due in five weeks. And Denise O'Donnell, a high-ranking cabinet official who oversees the State Police, announced her immediate resignation Thursday, telling Paterson in a curt letter that "recent events make it impossible for me, in good conscience, to remain a member of your administration." The activity is fallout from the governor's acknowledgment Wednesday night that he has suspended David Johnson, a longtime aide and close confidant. He ordered a probe into contacts that Johnson, an unnamed State Police officer assigned to protect the governor, and Paterson himself had with a woman pursuing domestic violence charges against Johnson. The charges were dropped after the woman declined to pursue them... Rep. Steve Israel, D-Long Island, telephoned the governor to urge him not to run... And Democratic State Chairman Jay Jacobs met with the governor Wednesday evening to discuss, in frank terms, the road ahead... The Rev. Al Sharpton has invited several prominent African-American elected officials to a Saturday meeting in Harlem "to assess how do we go forward and whether we can go forward with the governor" ... A statement from Cuomo's office said it is "proceeding to determine if criminal or other wrongdoing is involved"... "The governor has always been an advocate to end violence against women," said Marcia Pappas, president of the New York chapter of the National Organization of Women. "It would certainly be political suicide for him in the end if this is true"... [Full article here]

Jen Chung
Feb 27, 2010
[Excerpts] More disturbing details about the State Police's involvement in an alleged domestic abuse incident concerning a close aide to Governor Paterson. The NY Times reports that the aide, David Johnson, "reached out to the commander of the governor’s State Police detail the day after an altercation with his girlfriend and asked the commander to call the woman, according to a person briefed on the commander’s actions." The commander, Major Charles Day, was authorized by his superior "to contact the woman, the person briefed on the sequence of events said, and Major Day did so on at least three occasions." On Halloween of last year, Johnson allegedly choked Sherr-una Booker, as well as ripped her clothes off (he was reportedly unhappy about a costume she was wearing for a party) and slammed her into a mirrored dresser; he also allegedly prevented her from using her cellphone and home phone to call the cops. Booker eventually did report the incident to the NYPD and sought an order of protection from Johnson—but as the legal wheels were turning, she was repeatedly contacted by the State Police (she said she was being harassed) and was even told by a Paterson staffer to speak with the Governor. Ultimately, the case was dismissed, because Booker didn't appear in court... State Police Superintendent Henry Corbitt admitted to the Times that a trooper visited Booker... Denise O'Donnell, Paterson's cabinet member who oversaw the State Police, resigned over the matter, saying that Corbitt misled her when she asked if the State Police were involved in the investigation; Corbitt maintains that the State Police weren't involved in the investigation (since a trooper just, you know, contacted Booker). [Full article here]

New York Daily News
BY Elizabeth Benjamin
March 1st 2010
[Excerpts] In his first public remarks since his announcement last Friday that he would not run for election this fall, Gov. David Paterson defiantly insisted he will not heed calls for him to resign or, at the very least, remove himself from the budget negotiations... The governor said there has been "an hysteria that I've been a victim of over the last couple of months," adding: "I've been resigning about five times before this weekend." He sought to distance himself from AG Andrew Cuomo's investigation into whether the governor and/or the State Police inappropriately interfered in the domestic violence case of his former top aide, David Johnson, saying: "This is a separate issue that really involved someone that worked for us and not me"... [Full article here]

New York Times
By Danny Hakim, William K. Rashbaum
March 1, 2010
[Excerpts] Gov. David A. Paterson personally directed two state employees to contact the woman who had accused his close aide of assaulting her, according to two people with direct knowledge of the governor’s actions. Mr. Paterson instructed his press secretary, Marissa Shorenstein, to ask the woman to publicly describe the episode as nonviolent, according to a third person, who was briefed on the matter... Mr. Paterson also enlisted another state employee, Deneane Brown, a friend of both the governor and the accuser, to make contact with the woman before she was due in court to finalize an order of protection against the aide, David W. Johnson, the two people with direct knowledge said. Ms. Brown, an employee of the Division of Housing and Community Renewal, reached out to the woman on more than one occasion over a period of several days and arranged a phone call between the governor and the woman, Mr. Johnson’s companion. After the calls from Ms. Brown and the conversation with the governor, the woman failed to appear for the court hearing on Feb. 8, and the case was dropped... Last Friday, Mr. Paterson ended his campaign for election, after The Times first disclosed that he and his State Police detail had intervened in a domestic abuse case involving Mr. Johnson, one of his closest aides... Mr. Paterson has stated that he was unaware of the details of the case until The Times reported them... After the news reports, he suspended Mr. Johnson and asked Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo to begin an investigation... To date, the administration has conceded that the State Police contacted the woman in the hours and days after the Oct. 31 alleged assault in the Bronx, and she has said under oath in family court that they harassed and pressured her not to pursue charges... [Full article here]

March 2, 2010 9:49 p.m. EST
[Excerpts] The National Organization for Women's New York chapter called for embattled Gov. David Paterson's resignation Tuesday after a report alleging that he asked two staff members to call a woman who accused a governor's aide of assault. "It is inappropriate for the governor to have any contact or to direct anyone to contact an alleged victim of violence," Marcia Pappas, the group's president, said Tuesday. "This latest news is very disappointing for those of us who believed the governor was a strong advocate for women's equality and for ending violence against women," she said... On Tuesday, State Police Superintendent Harry Corbitt announced his retirement, according to a state police spokesman. The retirement, effective Wednesday, comes less than a week after the abrupt resignation of New York Deputy Secretary for Public Safety Denise O'Donnell. O'Donnell has said Corbitt told her in January that a senior administration staff member had an argument with his girlfriend and a domestic incident report was filed. She said Corbitt told her "the matter was being handled as a local police matter by the New York Police Department" and that state police were not involved. She said she resigned after learning state police were indeed involved... [Full article here]

The police chief of New York state [Harry Corbitt] resigned yesterday amid a growing scandal over a domestic violence case that threatens to topple the state’s governor....

From The Times
James Bone, New York
March 4, 2010
The police chief of New York state resigned yesterday amid a growing scandal over a domestic violence case that threatens to topple the state’s governor. Harry Corbitt, the state police superintendent, retired after it emerged that he had asked an officer from Governor David Paterson’s security detail to contact a woman who was seeking a protection order... Mr Paterson said that Ms Booker initiated the telephone call and that he did not try to persuade her to drop the case. However, the Governor reportedly asked two of his officials to contact the woman, instructing one: “Tell her the governor wants her to make this go away”... Announcing his resignation Mr Corbitt said: “I’m a cop, a good cop, so to continue to face that pressure — and even pressure from my family — the media showing up in my driveway, that’s unacceptable. So for my own health, for my own sanity, it’s the right thing to do.” [Full article here]

EX-COMMISH: I QUIT OVER LOST 'TRUST'- Tells of abuse-case outrage: Denise O'Donnell calls the gov's actions "unacceptable."
New York Post
By Denise E. O'donnell
March 6, 2010
Last week, I resigned my position as commissioner of the Division of Criminal Justice Services and deputy secretary of public safety for the state of New York. I made that decision with a heavy heart but a clear conscience. I cannot condone and will not defend behavior that is the antithesis of what many of us have spent our entire careers working to build -- a legal system that protects victims of domestic violence and brings offenders to justice... Last week, the governor and members of the State Police acknowledged having direct contact with a woman who had filed for an order of protection against a senior member of the governor's staff. These actions are unacceptable, regardless of their intent. And their damage was immediate. "I thought it was going to be swept under the table because he's like a government official," said the woman, "and I have problems even calling the police because the state troopers kept calling me and harassing me to drop the charges and I wouldn't"... Despite repeated requests for help, our legal system is failing her. Research has shown that fear of reprisal is a major factor in whether victims report crimes... It is hard to imagine a higher potential for reprisal than being contacted -- in this case, three times -- by the State Police on behalf of your attacker and then, ultimately, by the state's most powerful politician... [Full article here]

New York Times
By Danny Hakim and William K. Rashbaum
March 18, 2010
[Excerpts] The dispute had ended, and his companion had called 911, saying she had been a victim of domestic violence. Sometime before 10 p.m. on Oct. 31, David W. Johnson left the Bronx apartment he shared with the woman and began making a series of phone calls. Mr. Johnson, a senior aide to Gov. David A. Paterson, called Clemmie L. Harris Jr., a confidant and a senior adviser of Mr. Paterson’s. He also called Maj. Charles Day of the State Police, the commander of the governor’s security detail, who was at home in Albany... Major Day soon called and spoke with Ms. [Sherr-una] Booker — even before the city police arrived to investigate the 911 call. Mr. Johnson also called a friend, a woman who knew both Ms. Booker and Mr. Paterson, and she went to the Bronx apartment, arriving before the police... Mr. Paterson, in the days after news of the episode became public, said he had learned of it only recently and had not appreciated the seriousness of Ms. Booker’s allegations — she said she was choked, had her clothes ripped off and was shoved into a mirrored dresser in her bedroom... Major Day ... has said that he regarded his call to Ms. Booker as innocent, that he was merely checking to see if she was all right or needed assistance... Others with knowledge of Ms. Booker’s account of the call said she clearly felt that she was being discouraged from pursuing charges or a case against Mr. Johnson. One thing that people briefed on the events of Oct. 31 are clear on is this: Major Day was deeply concerned that Mr. Johnson would be arrested, perhaps even in the presence of the governor. He made a series of calls that night to other officials of the State Police... Investigators have yet to interview Mr. Harris or Mr. Paterson... [Ms. Booker]  was given a temporary order of protection in Bronx Family Court on Nov. 2; it was extended when she appeared in court on Nov. 4. Mr. Johnson failed to appear... On Dec. 17, she was back in Family Court, as was a lawyer for Mr. Johnson. The lawyer — a predecessor of Mr. Michelen’s — said Mr. Johnson had not been properly served... the lawyer declined to accept service himself... A new hearing was set for Feb. 8... By early February, Mr. Paterson, according to people with direct knowledge of his actions, had instructed his longtime friend Deneane Brown, a state worker and the woman who had gone to Ms. Booker’s apartment the night of the confrontation, to contact her and discourage her from making the case public. And on Feb. 7, the day before Mr. Johnson was due back in court with Ms. Booker, the governor himself spoke to Ms. Booker. Mr. Paterson has denied discussing the case or discouraging Ms. Booker from going forward. But she did not appear in court the next day, and the case was dismissed. According to people briefed on his actions, Mr. Paterson talked to Ms. Booker by phone on several occasions after Feb. 7... [Full article here]
[public official involved domestic violence intimate partner violence (IPV) abuse law enforcement public safety]


  1. AnonymousJuly 22, 2010

    The GOVERNOR calling his aide's victim, is just WRONG WRONG WRONG. How could he not realize that?

  2. [NY] 10 months after allegations Gov. Paterson's suspended top aid David Johnson finally arrested for DV assault


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