The Other Side: Former Aide Disputes Gov.'s Claims
Golan Cipel Calls Jim McGreevey's Actions Sex Harassment
Jim Rosenfield Reporting
"You think you know, most people are good and you don't think bad things can happen to you. And to think of so many months and years I think about this moment and I think how do you let it happen? How did this guy manage to fool you and fool everybody else?" -- Golan Cipel
(CBS) NEW YORK When he resigned from office in 2004, then-Gov. James E. McGreevey, D-N.J., said that he was "a gay American" and that he had been in a consensual relationship with another man. In his 2006 autobiography, "The Confession," McGreevey provided details of the alleged affair. The man with whom McGreevey claimed he had been romantically involved, former aide Golan Cipel, granted his first television interview to CBS 2's Jim Rosenfield in November 2006. Here is the transcript of Part 1 of Rosenfield's report:
Cipel: Today I understand that he was tying a web around me from day one. But at that time, I didn't see it coming.
Rosenfield: This is your first time back here in how long?
Cipel: Several years. Brings back a lot of bad memories.
Rosenfield Voiceover: The "bad memories," as Golan Cipel calls them, came flooding back -- with apparent razor-sharp clarity.
Cipel: Looks a little different now, but the layout is still the same.
Rosenfield Voiceover: For the first time, Cipel shows us inside the modest two-bedroom condo in Woodbridge , where McGreevey lived as governor-elect. McGreevey's handpicked aide says he wanted to come back to the place where he says his boss crossed the line five years ago. In McGreevey's book, "The Confession," listen as he describes the encounter as passionate:
McGreevey, from "The Confession": I Took Golan by the hand and led him upstairs to my bed… We made love like I'd always dreamed.
Rosenfield Voiceover: But Golan Cipel insists there was no romance here, no handholding, no passionate kiss, no falling asleep on the pillow. What he said took place here was sexual harassment.
Cipel: And he said, "Just before you leave, I have something upstairs work-related and I need to give it to you." I'm behind the Governor...
Rosenfield Voiceover: But as Cipel began to show us what he says happened here, he froze on the landing.
Rosenfield: This is the first time you've been on this staircase since it happened?
Cipel: (sigh) I feel like this is the spot where my life ended, the way I planned it to be, the way I believed it to be and it's never going to be the same. ( sigh ) When you plan a life, everybody has dreams. You think you know, most people are good and you don't think bad things can happen to you. And to think of so many months and years I think about this moment and I think how do you let it happen? How did this guy manage to fool you and fool everybody else?
Rosenfield Voiceover: So, how did it all begin? In 1999, then-Woodbridge Mayor Jim McGreevey was on an official trip to Israel and met Cipel, a spokesperson for a local municipality outside Tel Aviv.
Rosenfield: What was your impression of him, initially?
Cipel: I think that the impression was that he was a nice guy. Very simple. Um, nothing, no red lights, no alarms, nothing that you can suspect....
And at a certain point he said, "You know I'm thinking of running again. And I'm starting to build my campaign. And I have this group of young men that I'm gathering now, to work with me. And I think you would just perfectly fit there."
Rosenfield: This is the first day you met him?
Cipel: This is the first couple of hours that I met him.
McGreevey, from "The Confession": My attraction to him was immediate and intense and apparently reciprocated. From the minute I walked in the building I felt it.
Rosenfield: What part of that is true?
Cipel: Well, the part of uh, mutual attraction absolutely is not true.
Rosenfield: When did it start to occur to you that maybe there was something going on here that you weren't comfortable with as far as you described?
Cipel: Only in the first incident. Until then I had no idea.
McGreevey file tape: Let's get to work !.... (cheers)
Rosenfield Voiceover: Cipel joined the new administration as a special counselor to the governor. His duties included the now-infamous job of liaison on homeland security issues, a role which McGreevey admits he foolishly exaggerated, and led to Cipel's eventual resignation.
Cipel: I didn't suspect anything."
Rosenfield Voiceover: Back to that night in Woodbridge . Cipel says the two men were alone at McGreevey's apartment. McGreevey's expectant wife, Dina, was in the hospital.
Cipel: And I just remember holding back here and saying what's going on. Again he pushed me on the chest back into the bedroom. I was in shock and I fell. And there was just this crazy look in his eyes. Didn't care. Tried to struggle with me. Tried to kiss me. I just remember holding my head and saying, "No. Stop." Fighting with him. And I moved to the other side of the bed here. And he was there where you stand. And I wanted to get out. But he's close to the door. I just remember wanting to ask him so many questions, but wanting to leave as fast as possible. And he said don't ever repeat this to anybody. Then I asked him, "Why did you think I was gay?" And he said, "Everybody's a little bit gay."
Rosenfield: Why didn't you go to the police?
Rosenfield: The thought crossed my mind. Again, I didn't have a chance. The people McGreevey knew. He was the mayor of this town.
Rosenfield: Did you have any proof about what happened here?
Rosenfield: No, no proof. ... If you asked me, before that happened, what would you do if a man was sexually attacking you, I would say I would punch him in the mouth. But the truth is , I didn't. I froze.
Rosenfield On Set: Cipel says they never actually had sex and he kept silent about that night for two years, before finally deciding after two other supposed incidents to file a sex harassment lawsuit against the governor. But the governor resigned and the suit was never filed.
McGreevey declined our repeated requests for an interview.