Woman at Center of Gov. Paterson Aide Scandal Wants "Justice" - NBC New York

Woman at Center of Gov. Paterson Aide Scandal Wants "Justice"

Exclusive report as Sherr-una Booker vows to refile charges against David Johnson



    The woman at the center of a domestic abuse scandal that clouded the governor's office says she intends to refile charges against former Paterson aide David Johnson. (Published Thursday, July 22, 2010)

    The woman whose domestic violence claims rocked Albany says she wants justice.

    Breaking her silence, Sherr-una Booker vowed to again pursue charges against the man who once was Governor Paterson's closest aide.

    "It's not okay for anyone to put their hands on anyone else," said Booker, 41.  "It's not okay for someone to be fearful, it's just not okay. Speak up. Stand up."

    But she remained mum about Paterson, under investigation along with the state police for allegedly trying to shield aide David Johnson by derailing a previous domestic violence case against him.

    Booker said that she wants Johnson, her former live-in boyfriend, to be held criminally responsible for allegedly assaulting her last October in their Bronx home.

    "I will be refilling my charges as soon as possible," said Booker, who had lived with Johnson for four years.

    She declined to detail the alleged fight last Halloween over her costume and refused to address Paterson's role in reportedly getting her to drop her previous case against Johnson.

    Sherr-una Booker Says She Wants "The Truth to Come Out"

    [NY] Sherr-una Booker Says She Wants "The Truth to Come Out"
    Sherr-una Booker talks candidly about domestic violence and her plans to refile domestic violence charges against her former boyfriend, an ex aide to Gov. David Paterson.
    (Published Thursday, July 22, 2010)

    She did confirm that she told the truth in Family Court last November when she said that New York state troopers had been "harassing me to drop the charges and I wouldn't" and thanked the judge for issuing an order of protection.

    "Whatever I said in court, I definitely stand by it," she said.

    However Booker did miss a required court appearance last February -- causing the judge to drop the case -- after Paterson reportedly called her.

    Booker said she's coming forward now "after a lot of soul searching and praying."  She credited other women who had been abused by their boyfriends for supporting her, especially a co-worker at her hospital job who stayed with a man who broke her arm.

    "She didn't speak out for years," said Booker.

    "And it kind of gave me the courage to come forth and speak for other women that maybe didn't feel that they would be heard, or weren't important enough to speak up,"said Booker, the single mother of two sons.

    "It's the right thing to do.  I don't want any woman to go through what I went through."

    Finding herself in the media and political spotlight has been a "horrible experience," she said.  But she told her story to WNBC and the Daily News in her lawyer's office because she said she wanted to raise awareness of the issue of domestic violence.  But she said it was tough being followed by reporters day and night for months.

    "You're in shock, you're overwhelmed, you're fearful," she said. But despite the ordeal, she's going forward "because it's the right thing to do."

    Her attorney, Ken Thompson, called her "a honest person, she's a hard-working single mother who is a victim."

    She said she's also kept her faith in the future.

    "Being a Christian," she said. "I always expect the truth to come out."

    Steve Reed, a spokesman for Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson, said prosecutors who handle domestic violence cases are expected to meet with Booker.  "We are in the process of speaking with her," Reed said. "We do plan to meet with her."

    Johnson's attorney, Oscar Michelen, said there was no assault last October, quoting Booker as allegedly telling police that it was "a verbal dispute."

    Michelen also predicted that investigators will conclude "that there was no such pressure placed on her to drop the charges."

    Gov. Paterson's office referred calls to his attorney, Theodore Wells, who has not returned a message.

    Meanwhile former Chief Judge Judith Kaye is reportedly close to finishing her investigation into whether the governor or other state officials pressured Booker to drop her initial case against Johnson.  Kaye could not be reached Thursday.  Attorney General Andrew Cuomo had picked her to be the special prosecutor on the matter after recusing himself.