Lawyer Says Deal Was in Works

Lawyer Says Deal Was in Works Just minutes before Gov. James E. McGreevey admitted last week that he is gay and will resign, the lawyer for the man accusing the governor of sexual harassment believed McGreevey would pay to keep a lawsuit from being filed.

Allen Lowy, the attorney for Golen Cipel, on Monday said a verbal deal that would have stopped the filing of a lawsuit was struck with McGreevey's attorneys five minutes before the scheduled start of the news conference where the governor announced he had a gay affair.

"We had a deal," Lowy said. "The next thing I know my secretary told me he's in the process of resigning. "I was very surprised. I understood that they were satisfied and it was over."

Lowy said the deal would have involved the payment of money to Cipel, the former McGreevey administration official who claims he spurned the repeated sexual advances of the governor. Lowy would not say how much money was offered as part of the settlement.

Cipel is still considering filing a lawsuit, according to Lowy.

Kathy Ellis, a spokeswoman for McGreevey, called Lowy's version of the minutes leading up to the announcement "absolutely incorrect."

McGreevey shocked the world Thursday, first by admitting his homosexuality and an extramarital affair with an unnamed man, then by saying he would resign as governor.

Two sources close to McGreevey have identified Cipel as the man with whom the governor, in his resignation speech, acknowledged having an affair. Cipel, though, said in an interview published Sunday in the Israeli daily newspaper Yediot Ahronot that he is straight and that McGreevey repeatedly made unwanted advances.

McGreevey's lawyer triggered an FBI probe earlier this month by claiming that Cipel tried to blackmail the governor, first by demanding a $50 million payment to avoid a sexual harassment lawsuit, then asking for the governor's help in developing a private medical college, according to sources close to McGreevey.

America's first openly gay governor returned to work Monday, and spokespeople have said his focus in coming weeks will be on a series of initiatives that he hopes to complete before leaving office this fall.

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