The Hudson County Prosecutor is strongly refuting a claim by Star-Ledger editorial page editor Tom Moran that he merely tapped her elbow, saying that he was more physically aggressive.
The response follows allegations that Moran put his hands on the prosecutor, Esther Suarez, while attempting to interview her in 2019 – an incident captured on a surveillance video – along with reports filed by two law enforcement officers at the time. Moran had described the encounter as a “gentle tap on the elbow.”
“The memos and videos from the incident speak for themselves, but in the event someone is attempting to mischaracterize these proofs, I will be very clear. This was not a ‘gentle tap’ on the prosecutor’s elbow as stated, but rather her arm was grabbed with such force she could still feel it several minutes later,” said Jennifer Morrill, a spokesperson for the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office. “This was documented and corroborated at the time by law enforcement who witnessed the incident.”
Moran denied Suarez’s characterization, insisting that he never grabbed her arm.
“That is a lie. Neither officer at the scene reported that, Suarez never claimed it before, and I say now plainly it is not true,” Moran told the New Jersey Globe.
The video shows Moran closely following Suarez after an April 2019 event in Jersey City and raising his hands as if to touch the prosecutor.
Two witnesses, in reports filed after the incident, said they heard Suarez raise her voice telling Moran not to touch her. Gene Rubino, the executive assistant prosecutor who accompanied Suarez, said that he watched Moran “motioning his arm and hand towards the prosecutor’s back or arm area.”
According to Morrill, Star-Ledger executives were advised of the incident but never investigated it.
“Tom Moran’s supervisors were alerted that an incident took place, and everyone failed to even inquire as to what the incident was until it was printed in another media outlet,” Morrill said.
It’s not clear whether the newspaper has now opened an internal probe.
Suarez, a former Superior Court Judge, is widely viewed as a leading candidate to become New Jersey’s next U.S. Attorney. In columns published in the newspaper and on its website, Moran has been critical of Suarez’s contention for the top federal law enforcement post.
The New Jersey Globe, which first reported the allegations against Moran, obtained incident reports and the surveillance video after a request was made under the state’s Open Public Records Act.