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But the well-respected Israeli newspaper Ha'Aretz quoted Cipel's lawyers Alan Lowy and Rachel Yosevitz as saying that Cipel is heterosexual and that there was no affair. At a rain-drenched press conference in Manhattan on Friday, Lowy read a statement from his client portraying the Governor as something of a sexual aggressor. "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," the statement said. "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."
McGreevey's press secretary denied any strong-arming, and late Friday the two sides traded bitter accusations. McGreevey's team spread the story that in July Cipel sent word to the Governor that if he didn't get a $5 million settlement, he would noisily file a sexual-harassment lawsuit. Another version of events--reported Friday on the local NBC affiliate--says Cipel sought not money for himself but political favors for Touro College, where Kushner, his visa sponsor, is a board member. Kushner attorney Benjamin Brafman says he "absolutely, categorically" rejects the "seedy rumor" that Kushner is behind Cipel's suit. The Governor's people say they eventually came to view Cipel's demands as extortion and reported him and Lowy to the FBI, which is investigating. For his part, Lowy, who like the Governor didn't take questions, says McGreevey's representatives offered his client hush money "without provocation." Cipel has filed no lawsuit so far, but Lowy didn't rule one out.
When McGreevey got married for the second time in 2000, he and his wife Dina had their wedding reception on a hotel roof in Washington, according to Philadelphia magazine, even though neither is from that city. From the top of the Hay-Adams hotel, you can toss a cat onto the White House lawn. Jim and Dina were clearly an ambitious couple; she has been a mover in New Jersey's large Portuguese community. What does his coming out mean for her?
Predictably, Dina is "heartsick," according to a McGreevey adviser. But, he says, it was her decision to stand by her husband at the news conference. She wore a slightly vacant, utterly immovable expression, but she was next to him. His first wife Kari Schutz is also there for him, in her way. From her home in Canada, she was telling reporters last week that her former husband is a good father and a supportive ex. Asked if she knew he was gay, she told TIME, "We've always had open communication."
Over the past few weeks, as the threat of a Cipel lawsuit mounted, McGreevey had to decide whether he would just come out of the closet or also resign. Some advisers, including Zoffinger, argued that he should try to weather the scandal. In the end, however, "[McGreevey] didn't want to go through what Bill Clinton went through with the impeachment process," says Zoffinger. "He didn't want to put the state through 16 more months of debate about this issue."