Gov. David Paterson on Wednesday criticized a news report about a longtime aide who has become a close adviser despite two drug arrests in his youth and unproven reports of domestic violence.
Paterson said he hired David Johnson as a Senate intern more than a decade ago as part of an effort to give a second chance to kids caught in Harlem's crack epidemic.
A New York Times story published Wednesday reported that Johnson pleaded guilty to a felony of attempted drug sale and successfully served probation.
He was first arrested in 1989, when he was 16, and was treated as a youthful offender; few details are available.
Johnson became a Paterson intern in 1999 and graduated from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in 2002.
The Times story states that Johnson, 37, had three "disputes'' with women in recent years, although it appears no police reports were made. The Times also noted that Paterson has sought to be a leader against domestic violence.
The administration did not make Johnson available to The Associated Press for comment.
"We believe the story was accurate and fair,'' said Times spokeswoman Diane C. McNulty.
On the cusp of launching his campaign to be elected to a full term, Paterson has blamed the Times' reporting in part for a flurry of rumors and reports in other media about wild but unsubstantiated personal behavior. McNulty wouldn't respond when asked whether the Times planned other stories on the administration's inner workings.
"The New York Times has chosen to splash his youthful offenses across the pages of its newspaper -- even though the courts of our state have ordered them to be sealed,'' Paterson said in a prepared statement. "Mistakes committed during one's youth are determined by law to be kept sealed for a reason -- to give a young person a second chance at a productive life. I profoundly believe in this principle of redemption and giving young people a second chance.''
The Democrat also said the allegations of domestic violence would be "extremely troubling if true -- but the conclusions reached by the Times report are not supported by the facts.''
Paterson was lieutenant governor when he succeeded Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who resigned in a prostitution scandal.