Exclusive: Paterson Aide Tells WNBC's Jonathan Dienst "I Will Be Vindicated" - NBC New York

Exclusive: Paterson Aide Tells WNBC's Jonathan Dienst "I Will Be Vindicated"

David Johnson speaks to NBCNewYork in first interview since scandal broke



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    Speaking out for the first time, David Johnson tells NBCNewYork,  "I will be vindicated." 

    Johnson -- the suspended aide to Gov. David Paterson who has been at the center of a domestic abuse scandal that has threatened the political future of the governor -- agreed to take a few questions after leaving Bronx family court with his attorney to go over files and records in the case.

    "I've been a dedicated public servant to the community for over 15 years despite the other allegations that are out there," Johnson told NBCNewYork in an exclusive interview.

    "I continue to work hard for my area," he said. "And I want to continue to do that.  So that is what I hope after the vindication that I can just go back to work as a public servant for the people of New York City and New York State."

    Citing the ongoing investigation, Johnson's attorney Oscar Michelen declined to let Johnson answer any questions about the alleged domestic violence incident or the allegations that there were efforts made to try to influence the woman from moving forward with the case.

    "The most important thing to remember is that criminal charges were never brought in this [domestic violence] case," Michelen said.  "Even thought the police did come to the apartment that night - after they spoke to the complainant - seeing no evidence of a crime they did not arrest or attempt to arrest Mr. Johnson." 

    As for questions about alleged efforts to silence the woman, Michelen said his client denies it.  "We have denied it from the beginning.  We continue to deny it. We believe when everybody hears all of the evidence about that that they'll come out on our side of this issue and see that there was no substantive proof to any of these allegations," Michelen said.

    NBCNewYork tracked down Johnson one day after the we aired a first recent photo of Sherr-una Booker, the woman at the center of the controversy.

    Special prosecutor Judith Kaye is now looking into the events surrounding the domestic violence case and why New York State Police officials and Governor Paterson himself contacted Booker as she was pressing the case in family court.

    In recordings of the Family Court hearings, first obtained by NBCNewYork, Booker alleged state police officials had been "harassing" her about the case.

    It was back on Halloween night that Booker called police to claim Johnson had grabbed her by the throat and threw her into a dresser inside her Bronx apartment.  While pressing the case in family court and trying to seek an order of protection, Booker claimed over a period of weeks that state police, a friend of the governor and Paterson himself had spoken with her even though the case was within the jurisdiction of the NYPD.

    Five officials have resigned amid the scandal including Paterson's press secretary, his communications director, two state police directors as well as the state's head of public safety.  Paterson suspended Johnson after The New York Times first reported on the domestic violence case and the questions of possible interference with the victim.

    Booker's attorney Lawrence Saftler Thursday said his client has told the truth and will continue to tell the truth.  Saftler said his client, a mother of two, is upset by the incident and the resulting media firestorm.  He asked her privacy be respected.

    Johnson, wearing a suit and tie, appeared calm and friendly as he left the family courthouse in the shadow of Yankee Stadium.  "I am holding up as well as can be expected given the constant attention that has been given to this situation," he said.  "You know I have been been working really close with my attorneys to help them out with any fact finding or any information that they need regarding the incident."

    Johnson added he hopes the public will keep an "open mind" adding that he is "confident that after the Attorney General's investigation, if it actually plays out in court in any kind of way, I will be vindicated."

    He went on: "I have the utmost respect and faith in God, support of my family, confidence in my attorney -- I have just been spending time with family and friends you know who have been very, extremely supportive."

    For more video from this Jonathan Dienst exclusive, tune in to the 6 p.m.news on WNBC Channel 4.

    Jonathan Dienst WNBC