Seattle Mayor Ed Murray resigns amid sex abuse allegations

Updated:

Mayor Ed Murray is expected to resign at 5 p.m. Wednesday amid allegations from five sex abuse accusers. 

Murray made the announcement in a written statement at 1:07 p.m. Tuesday, roughly two hours after a fifth man accused him of sexual abuse decades ago.

"While the allegations against me are not true, it is important that my personal issues do not affect the ability of our City government to conduct the public’s business," he wrote. 

A cousin of the Seattle mayor was the fifth man to accuse Murray of sexual abuse – this time alleging he was repeatedly molested as a teenager in the 1970s. The Seattle Times broke the story shortly after 11 a.m. when Murray was expected to announce a plan for KeyArena. Murray’s staff canceled the press briefing.

Scroll down to read about the claims.  


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With an upcoming election in Seattle, Murray has publicly denied all the claims.  

Below read about filling the mayoral vacancy, calls for Murray to step down, Murray's career, and the allegations. 

Who fills the Seattle mayoral vacancy? Here’s what to know

Depending on results from the upcoming November election, either candidate Jenny Durkan or Cary Moon will take office as mayor of Seattle in January 2018. Read the leading contenders here.

Many are questioning who will take over the mayoral duties for the next few months.

According to the Seattle City Charter, the president of the council becomes mayor in the occasion of a mayoral vacancy unless he or she declines the position within five calendar – not business – days.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray.
AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

Seattle City Council President Bruce Harrell didn't reveal his intentions in a statement he released less than an hour after Murray’s resignation. Harrell will discuss the matter with his family and colleagues, and make a decision in the upcoming days.

“First and foremost, my heart goes out to survivors and their families who have been affected by sexual abuse and the re-traumatization these allegations have caused,” he wrote. “I intend to make an announcement within the five days on my intentions.”

There are two succession plans in place: what happens if Harrell accepts the office and what happens if he doesn’t. Read both plans here.

About Murray’s career

Before his political career, Murray, one of seven children in an Irish Catholic family, considered the priesthood. He spent a year at a seminary in 1976 before studying sociology at the University of Portland, a private Catholic institution, according to news profiles.

Around the time of one of the accuser's allegations, Murray was managing the 1988 campaign of Sen. Cal Anderson. He then worked as an aide to City Councilmember Martha Choe for four years in the 1990s.

Murray served as the Washington state legislator representing the 43rd Legislative District for 18 years.

Bruce Harrell file (Photo: Re-Elect Bruce Harrell campaign)

In the Legislature, Murray was well known for his work on gay rights and his legislation to make same-sex marriage legal. Murray was also the prime sponsor of the 2002 safe schools bill protecting sexual minority youth in schools and a landmark bill banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation that was signed into law in 2006.

>> Read a timeline of Seattle mayor’s alleged sexual abuse of teens, and his attorney’s responses here 

Murray took office as the mayor of Seattle in 2014. Since taking office, he’s advocated for King County’s Metro bus system and passed a $15-an-hour minimum wage in Seattle.

He recently made national headlines for suing President Donald Trump’s administration  over executive orders. Also, Murray recently dropped a high-profile Seattle property tax levy meant to generate funding for the homeless and instead focused on a proposed King County-wide sales tax measure with county executive Dow Constantine.

Calls to step down 

One councilwoman, the Seattle LGBTQ commission, and multiple mayoral candidates have called on Murray to consider stepping down in the wake of these allegations. But some leaders, including four former mayors, believe Murray stepping down with just months to go in office could create a mess in city operations. 

“A transition merely months before electing a new mayor would be messy and time consuming, and would present serious challenges to the day-to-day operations of the city. As former mayors, we know transitions are long, difficult, and important processes, which is why Mayor Murray and his team have already begun the job of preparing for the new mayor to be sworn in next year,” the letter said.

Read both sides here.

Timeline of allegations from accusers 

1970s allegations:

Joseph Dyer, now 54, told The Seattle Times he was 13 years old when his cousin, Ed Murray was in his 20s, forced him into sex. The two shared a room in Dyer’s home in New York state.

The molestation stopped when a boy in a Catholic group home, where Murray worked, also claimed Murray abused him, according to The Times. Dyer said that his uncle negotiated to get group-home officials not to pursue charges as long as Murray left. 

Dyer told The Times that he never spoke to Murray after he departed from the town of Medford, New York. Along with his mother, Murray decided to speak out now, because they're outraged by the mayor's denials. 


Responses from the mayor’s team to Dyer's allegations: 

Murray denied the allegations in The Seattle Times article, and he said there’s been fights in the family for years. 


Early 1980s allegations:

Two other men – not involved in the recent lawsuits – accused Murray of abusing them in the 1980s and paying them for sex.

Alleged abuse between 1980 and 1982: Lloyd Anderson said that he first met Murray at a Portland center for troubled youth. But Anderson said he left the center, temporarily lived with a Portland-area couple and then lived on the streets and did drugs.

An alleged chance encounter between Murray and Anderson in 1981 and 1982 reunited them. Anderson said he went to Murray’s apartment in Portland, where he was paid for sex.

In a KIRO 7 exclusive, we spoke to Lloyd, who now lives in Florida. Watch video below or scroll down to keep reading. 

Lloyd told KIRO 7 that while at the Portland center he became best friends with another Murray accuser, Jeff Simpson.

Alleged abuse around 1984: Jeff Simpson, now 49, lived in Perry Center for Children in Portland, where Murray worked. He told KIRO 7 News that Murray was a father figure to him. Simpson said he met Murray at age 6, and the abuse allegedly when he was 13.

“When I was 13, it wasn't just molesting, he raped me,” he told KIRO 7 News. “But it's something that for a while was happening daily.”

Similar to the recent lawsuit claims, Simpson said Murray gave him money for sex and he’d use the cash for his drug habit.

“I’ve been living with this all my life. I’ve been hiding this …. I’ve been living with this shame, this guilt,” said Simpson, who claims he's not part of an anti-gay crusade or seeking money – rather, he said he's just trying to find closure. 

Simpson and Anderson have raised the allegations for decades. Simpson talked to police in 1984 and tried to bring a lawsuit against Murray in 2007 with Anderson's support, but his lawyer withdrew from the case.

What new documents say about Simpson: In April, KIRO 7 News obtained and unauthenticated a 1982 certificated that revealed a foster-father relationship. 

The newly-found records in mid-July show an Oregon child-welfare investigator concluded Murray abused his foster son. But the records revealed a Multnomah County prosecutor declined to pursue charges because of Simpson's troubled personality, not because she thought he was lying.

"It was Jeff's emotional instability, history of manipulative behavior and the fact that he has again run away and made himself unavailable that forced my decision," Deputy District Attorney Mary Tomlinson wrote.

She added: "We could not be sure of meeting the high burden of proof in a criminal case — of proof beyond a reasonable doubt and to a moral certainty. However, this in no way means that the District Attorney's Office has decided Jeff's allegations are not true."

No criminal charges were filed

The records show that Oregon state closed Murray's home to foster care in April 1984. 


Responses from the mayor’s team to Simpson's and Anderson's allegations:

The mayor’s spokesman, Jeff Reading, acknowledged Simpson and Anderson’s accusations in a news conference on April 6, 2017.  

“The two older accusations were promoted by extreme right-wing anti-gay activists in the midst of the marriage equality campaign, and were thoroughly investigated and dismissed by both law enforcement authorities and the media," Reading said. 

In a written response regarding Simpson, Murray said the child-welfare investigator never interviewed him and that neither he nor his attorney was informed of the findings at the time. He said the allegations were fully investigated and prosecutors never brought charges.

Mid-80s allegations:

Alleged abuse around 1986: A 46-year-old Kent man has sued Murray, claiming that while he was a homeless teen addicted to drugs, Murray sexually abused him on numerous occasions in the 1980s.

Delvonn Heckard and his lawyer claim that as a teen, Heckard met Murray on a bus in 1986. Murray propositioned Heckard  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.

Heckard made specific remarks in the complaint regarding the mayor’s body and a mole on his scrotum. (Murray's attorney said that allegation is false, see details below.)

Follow this link to read the complaint against Seattle Mayor Ed Murray , sent to KIRO 7 by the plaintiff’s attorney.

The eight-page lawsuit against Murray contains allegations that Heckard, 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 Heckard 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.

Heckard admits in the complaint that he was convicted of various charges related to drug use and prostitution.

Attorney Lincoln Beauregard said his client, Delvonn Heckard, decided to delay the case in June for a few months as he finishes counseling.

In the initial lawsuit, Heckard claims that counseling partially prompted him to file the lawsuit because he experienced moments of reflection and awareness after his father’s death.

Heckard filed a claim for damages with the city on July 26, seeking between $1 and $3 million. Heckard is seeking damages for harm because he believes Murray is “utilizing and abusing his position of power” as mayor. 

In the claim obtained by KIRO 7 News, Heckard also claimed that Murray “falsely and defamatorily (sic) accused Mr. Heckard, a gay man, of participating in an anti-gay right wing conspiracy along with other victims including Jeff Simpson and Lloyd Anderson.”


Current responses from the mayor’s team to Heckard's allegations:

Since the news of the lawsuit broke, the mayor’s team called the accusation false and politically motivated.

The mayor’s private attorney, Bob Sulkin, believes the lawsuit should be dropped after Murray’s examination at The PolyClinic showed no mole as specifically described in the complaint. In addition to an exam taken by the mayor on Tuesday, Sulkin also cited a 2015 normal exam that he said found no abnormalities.

A copy of that exam shows Murray took a normal genitourinary exam that showed “no dermatologic lesions such as a mole, freckle or keratosis present on the penis or scrotum.”

Sulkin said the doctor who gave the exam on April 11 has seen Murray for years. Heckard's attorney said in statement 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 lawsuit. 


Allegations in the 80s, no specific year:

Alleged abuse sometime in the 80s: Attorney Lincoln Beauregard, who also represents Heckard, filed the hand written declaration by Maurice Levon Jones claims he, too, was given money in exchange for sex as a teenager. 

Jones is currently in King County jail on drug charges. In the statement filed with the King County court by Heckard’s attorney, Jones wrote:

“Mr. Murray was known for patronizing child prostitutes at the time.”

Jones said he also visited Murray’s Capitol Hill apartment and wrote, “Mr. Murray gave me money for sex.” He has not filed his own lawsuit against Murray. 

Beauregard told KIRO 7 News the abuse happened around the time of the other cases. He did not give a specific year.


Responses from the mayor’s team to Jones' allegations: KIRO 7 reached out to the mayor's team for comment and received the following statement:

“As we’ve seen repeatedly from opposing counsel, this filing fits firmly into the category of sensational media stunt. Mayor Murray does not know this person. This is an ambush copycat false accusation that is being made without any details, evidence, timeline or anything at all to substantiate its veracity. Mayor Murray has never had inappropriate relations with any minor, and Mayor Murray has never paid for sex. This allegation is false.”