RISHON LETZION, Israel – The Israeli man at the center of New Jersey Gov. James E. McGreevey's (search) resignation spoke in public for the first time Tuesday, saying he has had a "very difficult time" and would stay with his family in Israel for a while.
McGreevey resigned last week after announcing that he is gay and that he has had an affair with a man. Sources close to McGreevey have identified the man as Golan Cipel (search), an Israeli, and said he demanded millions of dollars to stay quiet.
Cipel, 35, has told an Israeli newspaper that he is straight, but that the governor, a former boss, repeatedly made unwanted sexual advances — a claim denied by McGreevey's aides.
On Monday, Cipel flew from the United States, where he has been living, to Israel. He arrived at the home of his parents in the Tel Aviv suburb of Rishon Letzion (search) on Tuesday afternoon, wearing jeans, a blue polo shirt and track shoes.
Speaking in Hebrew, he said: "I have had a very difficult time. I have come to Israel to be with my family at this time. I cannot expand on anything for legal reasons."
Cipel declined to answer reporters' questions.
In a written statement released later Tuesday, Cipel said that "sexual harassment is a very difficult thing and those who haven't been through it don't understand how difficult it can be." He did not elaborate.
Cipel said that after a few weeks with his family, he would return to the United States "to make sure justice will come to light." He did not say whether he would file a lawsuit against McGreevey.
Sources in McGreevey's administration have said Cipel originally demanded $50 million but the figure dropped to $5 million as negotiations progressed.
Cipel's attorneys said McGreevey's lawyers offered to pay if Cipel didn't file a lawsuit. Cipel told the Yediot Ahronot daily over the weekend that he was considering various settlement offers when the governor suddenly resigned last week.
"It doesn't bother me that it is said I am gay, but I really am not. I'm straight. On the other hand, to accuse me of being an extortionist? Someone here has lost his mind," Cipel told Yediot.
McGreevey appointed Cipel as New Jersey's $110,000-a-year homeland security adviser in 2002, without a background check or official announcement. The appointment drew criticism, and Cipel was reassigned a few months later and soon after left government for a job in New York.