New York Times Finally Drops Paterson Bombshell

After rumors of the piece swirled for weeks, The New York Times today published a blistering scandal story on Governor David Paterson. Appearing on the front page of today’s print edition and in the top position of the Times‘ Web site, “Questions of Influence in Abuse Case of Paterson Aide,” describes an alleged assault on a woman by a member of the Paterson administration, harassment of that woman by the New York State Police, and an unclear role for the governor in the proceedings.

The complicated tale, penned by reporters William K. Rashbaum, Danny Hakim, David Kocieniewski and Serge F. Kovaleski, reveals few concrete details of Paterson’s involvement in the affair. Still, the elements of the story suggest violence, corruption and intimidation by figures close to the governor. The governor himself figures into the story, although the extent and nature of his involvement is disputed.

Here’s a recap: David Johnson, Paterson’s director of executive services and a close advisor, allegedly violently assaulted a woman on Halloween of last year. The details of the woman’s account are chilling:

She told the police that Mr. Johnson, who is 6-foot-7, had choked her, stripped her of much of her clothing, smashed her against a mirrored dresser and taken two telephones from her to prevent her from calling for help, according to police records.

The complainant, a woman whose lawyer asked the Times not to identify her, went to court multiple times to complain of harassment by State Police officers, who she says told her to drop her case.

Sometime in February (the actual day is disputed), Paterson called the woman himself. Subsequent to their conversation, the woman failed to appear at a hearing regarding her complaint, and the case was dropped.

Paterson told the Times that he would seek an investigation by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo into how his administration handled the matter. He has also suspended Johnson.

Rumors of a career-ending Times story on Paterson have been echoing since the end of January. Since then, the Times has published two additional Paterson stories (covered by Fishbowl NY here and here), neither of which were the brutal takedown that was supposedly in the works.

The further impact of this latest piece remains to be seen, but it at least appears for the moment that the Times has finally delivered a stunning blow to the Paterson administration.

Read “Questions of Influence in Abuse Case of Paterson Aide.”

Read the Times‘ transcript of the woman’s court testimony.