New Jersey first lady shares that she was sexually assaulted as a U.Va. student

Tammy Murphy tells story of sexual assault in speech at Morristown, N.J. Women’s March


Tammy Murphy (left) said her attacker did not ultimately face justice for assaulting her, although he later went to jail for a different crime. 

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons | Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Tammy Murphy, New Jersey’s new first lady, said on Saturday that she was a victim of sexual assault while attending the University of Virginia as an undergraduate student.

Murphy, who graduated from the University in 1987 and was appointed to the University’s Board of Visitors in 2015, discussed the attack in front of a crowd of thousands at a Women’s March event in Morristown, N.J. Her husband, Phil Murphy (D), was sworn in as New Jersey’s governor last Tuesday.

“The stories of the ‘Me Too’ movement have humbled the powerful and empowered the forgotten,” Murphy said in her speech at the event. “I will add my voice to this growing chorus. Three decades ago, as a college sophomore, I was sexually assaulted.”

Murphy said she was walking alone when a man grabbed her and pulled her into the bushes.

The man attempted to take her clothes off and put a crab apple in her mouth to silence her, she said to the crowd.

“When he tried to put that in my mouth, I bit him as hard as I could,” Murphy said, eliciting applause.

Murphy stated that she was able to escape to a nearby fraternity house, where students called the police. She added that her attacker did not face justice for assaulting her, but went to jail in the future for a different crime.

“I tell this today, not for me, but really for all of you,” Murphy said. “Surely among us is a woman who has been silent about her own story. I know the feeling of shame. I know the feeling of helplessness.”

On Sunday evening, the University responded to Murphy’s speech in a statement and offered its support to her.

“The University of Virginia is aware of Ms. Murphy’s remarks on Saturday that she was sexually assaulted during her time as an undergraduate student at the University in 1984,” the statement read. “The University has been in touch with Ms. Murphy to offer support and extends its deep sympathies to her.”

The statement also indicated that the alleged attacker was not affiliated with the University and that the incident was reported to local law enforcement at the time.

“The University is grateful for Ms. Murphy’s longtime commitment to UVA and is fortunate to have her expertise on its Board of Visitors,” the University said. “She is a role model for our students and is to be commended for her bravery in sharing the harrowing details associated with her attack.”

While a student at the University, Murphy double majored in English and Communications, served as vice president of the College and was a member of the Honor Committee.

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