Sawant: Seattle ‘shaken' by mayor's sexual abuse allegations

by: Ashli Blow Updated:

Seattle City Council President Bruce Harrell released a statement earlier this week that he and his colleagues wouldn’t comment on sex abuse allegations against Mayor Ed Murray  but one city councilwoman believes “it is vital to not remain silent on a matter such as this.”


Key developments in Murray’s case:

  • A 46-year-old Kent man has sued the mayor, claiming that while he was a homeless teen addicted to drugs, Murray sexually abused him on numerous occasions in the 1980s.
  • The Seattle Times reported that two other men accused Murray of abusing them in the 1980s and paying them for sex. 
  • Murray, 61, has denied the allegations, saying they were politically motivated.
  • Murray’s attorney on Tuesday said the lawsuit carried no credibility after a physical exam revealed the mayor didn’t have a mole on his genitalia as described in the complaint.

Socialist Seattle City Councilwoman Kshama Sawant is the first person on the council to publicly share a statement on the allegations after Harrell wrote no one had the intention on commenting.

Harrell issued a statement on Monday that read in part, “We believe that it is critically important that, together, we remain committed to the business of governing.” Read his full statement here.

Known for speaking at protests and leading progressive movements in Seattle, Sawant said the city has been shaken by the allegations. While Sawant didn’t comment specifically on details of the lawsuit, she said she couldn’t remain silent on sexual abuse. 

Sawant introduced her blog statement on her Facebook and Twitter pages, writing in her social posts that the rich should be tax to support abuse survivors.

Here’s her full blog statement:

Since Thursday, our city has been shaken by the allegations of sexual abuse brought forward against Mayor Murray.

While I cannot speak to the veracity of the claims, allegations of rape and abuse should always be taken seriously and investigated with care and diligence. I also believe it is vital to not remain silent on a matter such as this.

Our society, plagued by inequality and enormous imbalances of both power and wealth, is a painful place for sexual violence survivors.

I believe such serious charges must not be tried in a court of public opinion, which is so often cruel to survivors, and can be unjust for everyone involved. We have heard in recent days how survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence are reliving their own experiences of summoning the courage to come forward only to have their characters attacked. For many survivors, healing from the psychological violence of sexual abuse is a difficult, and sometimes lifelong process.

Regardless of the outcome of this specific case, we need a real discussion about rape, molestation, sexual assault, sexual harassment and domestic violence in our society, and in that discussion the voices of survivors must be centered. Programs to provide support and counseling for survivors of abuse must be fully funded, paid for by taxing the rich, and widely available. I stand at the ready to work with advocates, survivors, and the community.

According to the civil lawsuit filed in King County Superior Court, the plaintiff, identified in the lawsuit as D.H., met Murray on a bus in 1986. Murray propositioned D.H. for private visits to a Capitol Hill apartment and paid $10 to $20 for sexual acts that continued for an extended period of time, the lawsuit claims.

The eight-page lawsuit against Murray contains allegations that D.H., who was then 15 years old and legally unable to consent, saw another underage boy at the apartment on at least one occasion.

Attorneys for D.H. wrote in the complaint that speculation would lead people to believe that their client's actions are politically motivated. They claim that is "not exactly true," and that D.H. "believes that the public has a right to full information when a trusted official exploits a child," according to the lawsuit.

Murray held a short news conference last week and said he would not resign.

“Let me be clear: These allegations dating back to more than a period of 30 years are simply not true,” he said. “I will not back down now. I will continue to be mayor of this city. I will continue to run for re-election, and I plan to lead this city as we work our way through the wind and rain storm of this weekend as well as the many challenges we face going forward.” 

The mayor would not take questions from the media during the news conference. He said because this situation is a legal matter, questions needed to stay in the courts.

Days later the mayor’s attorney Bob Sulkin said in a news conference on Tuesday that the case is "meritless" because a recent examination showed no mole or evidence of a mole. D.H. made specific remarks in the complaint regarding the mayor’s body and a mole on his scrotum. 

Sulkin called the exam on Tuesday game-changing. 

“We have allegations dating back 30 years,” Sulkin said. “We have to understand what the heart of the accuser's allegation is, it’s the detailing of Mayor Murray’s private anatomy. Sure addresses and phone numbers are publicly available, not important. This morning [Tuesday] Mayor Murray submitted to a physical exam by his doctor at the PolyClinic. It was found to be no mole or bump in his private anatomy as alleged by the accuser.”

Sulkin said the doctor who gave the exam on Tuesday has seen Murray for years. 

D.H.'s attorney said in statement after the physical exam result was released that they would explore the need for an independent medical exam as ordered by the court. Sulkin told KIRO 7 News he'd agree to have the mayor examined by a doctor not representing either side of the lawsuit.

Next Up: