New York Times: Paterson Instructed State Officials to Contact Aide’s Accuser

A fourth installment of the ongoing New York Times investigation into the conduct of New York Governor David Paterson sheds new light on his role in an assault case against one of his top aides.

The story, which cites two people with direct knowledge of the governor’s actions, reveals that Paterson told members of his administration to contact the woman who accused aide David Johnson of assault. The apparent aim was to get the woman to downplay her initial characterization of Johnson’s behavior as violent.

According to the report, published this evening on the Times Web site, Paterson instructed both his press secretary, Marissa Shorenstein, and state employee Deneane Brown to contact the woman. Brown had multiple contacts with the woman in advance of the woman’s scheduled appearance in court to press a case against Johnson. Brown also arranged a conversation between Paterson and the woman. In the wake of these interactions, the woman failed to appear in court to advance her case, and the complaint was subsequently dropped, according to the Times.

Shorenstein, meanwhile, attempted to contact the woman but failed to do so, the Times said.

This report is the first Times story that reveals a direct role for the governor in attempts to influence the woman as she pursued a case against Johnson, one of Paterson’s closest aides. (Johnson has been suspended without pay.)

Paterson has already announced he would not run for a full term as governor following the publication of a Feb. 25 Times story detailing the woman’s complaint against Johnson and revealing that members of Paterson’s security detail had paid inappropriate visits to the woman in advance of her court date.

Paterson has called on New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to investigate the matter.

Two other Paterson stories (one published on Feb. 17 and another on Feb. 18) had drawn criticism for the Times because despite rumors of a career-ending scoop by the paper, the two stories revealed few damaging details about the governor. That criticism has abated somewhat following the Feb. 25 publication of “Questions of Influence in Abuse Case of Paterson Aide,” after which the governor announced he would not run in an upcoming election.