NYT scandal story drops: Did NY governor intervene on behalf of top aide who abused girlfriend?

Ah, here’s the stuff we’ve been waiting for lo these many weeks. The Times actually rolled out a separate story a week ago introducing the key player here: David Johnson, who started working for Paterson as an intern, eventually became his driver, and now serves as one of his most senior aides despite having “also on three occasions been involved in altercations with women.”

One minor detail they saved for tonight: If you believe Johnson’s latest victim, the State Police — and the governor himself — may have tried to cover things up.

Last fall, a woman went to court in the Bronx to testify that she had been violently assaulted by a top aide to Gov. David A. Paterson, and to seek a protective order against the man.

In the ensuing months, she returned to court twice to press her case, complaining that the State Police had been harassing her to drop it. The State Police, which had no jurisdiction in the matter, confirmed that the woman was visited by a member of the governor’s personal security detail.

Then early this month, days before she was due to return to court to seek a final protective order, the woman got a phone call from the governor, according to her lawyer. She failed to appear for her next hearing on Feb. 8, and as a result her case was dismissed…

The lawyer, Lawrence B. Saftler, said that the conversation lasted about a minute and that the governor asked how she was doing and if there was anything he could do for her. “If you need me,” he said, according to Mr. Saftler, “I’m here for you.”…

“I’m glad you’re doing this,” the woman told the court referee overseeing the case, “because I thought it was going to be swept under the table because he’s like a government official, 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.”

The superintendent of the State Police says a trooper did meet with the woman, but only to, er, give her “options” about proceeding with a legal case. Paterson met the Times last week, and when they questioned him about this, he was angry — not that Johnson had allegedly choked the woman and tore at her clothes, but angry that one of the Times’s reporters had gone to the woman’s home to investigate the story.

Oh, did I mention that Paterson’s chief of staff in 2001 had to intervene in one of the fights between Johnson and his then-girlfriend?

Just to make this a tiny bit more awkward for him, he’s promised that he’ll ask the attorney general to launch a full investigation of his administration’s handling of the case. The name of that attorney general? Andrew Cuomo, who happens to be leading Paterson in the New York Democratic primary by … 42 points. But that’s a minor detail: Paterson became political roadkill ages ago, so the only question here is whether it’ll force him to resign early or whether he’ll ride this tide to a landslide defeat later this year. Go ye, follow the link and read.

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