Seattle mayor responds to sex abuse allegations in editorial

by: KIRO 7 News Staff Updated:

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray responded to the sex abuse lawsuit against him with a lengthy editorial in The Stranger, claiming he still doesn’t know the identity of the accuser.

He again denied the accusation and said he’ll continue to do so because “it is simply not true.”

“Last Wednesday night, I received the shock of my life when I learned what all of Seattle would read about the next day: an anonymous person is accusing me of terrible acts that allegedly occurred thirty years ago,” Murray wrote.

“I had no opportunity to present the Seattle Times with any information or evidence that might refute the accusation made against me, or to demonstrate that the story was verifiably false and that is should not, could not be printed,” Murray said in the Stranger editorial, claiming the Times lowered its standard of proof in publishing the story.

Follow this link to read Murray’s full editorial about the sex abuse lawsuit and the Times reporting.

Seattle Times Managing Editor Michele Matassa Flores released a statement earlier this week after Murray’s private attorney also commented on the publication’s reporting.

"The Seattle Times did not rush to publish the story and in fact we contacted the mayor the day before we published it online to get his response,” Managing Editor Michele Matassa Flores said Tuesday in a statement. “We included the entire written statement of Murray's spokesman in our initial story."

Earlier this week, the Seattle Times Editorial Board said Murray should not run for re-election.


Key developments: 

  • A 46-year-old man in Kent filed a lawsuit last week claiming Murray sexually abused him. 
  • 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.
  • In a statement released Monday, Harrell said the council is committed to "the business of governing" and won't make statements on pending or potential litigation.
  • Murray's attorney on Tuesday said the lawsuit has no credit after Murray's doctor exam. 

Below read a breakdown of the lawsuit and Murray's response below. 

About the lawsuit

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.
 
According to a civil lawsuit filed Thursday 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.
 
D.H. made specific remarks in the complaint regarding the mayor’s body and a mole on his scrotum. 
 
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 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.
 
In the lawsuit, D.H. claims that he experienced moments of reflection and awareness after his father’s death and subsequent counseling, which prompted the filing of the lawsuit.
 
D.H. admits in the complaint that he was convicted of various charges related to drug use and prostitution.
 

The response from Murray and his attorney

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.

He called the exam on Tuesday game changing. 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.”

“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 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 lawsuit. 

After the news of the lawsuit surfaced last week, Murray denied the allegations in a statement after abruptly canceling a news conference about police reform.

The mayor’s personal spokesman, Jeff Reading, sent the following statement last week:

“These false accusations are intended to damage a prominent elected official who has been a defender of vulnerable populations for decades. It is not a coincidence that this shakedown effort comes within weeks of the campaign filing deadline. These unsubstantiated assertions, dating back three decades, are categorically false. Mayor Murray has never engaged in an inappropriate relationship with any minor.

The two older accusations were promoted by extreme right-wing antigay activists in the midst of the marriage equality campaign, and were thoroughly investigated and dismissed by both law enforcement authorities and the media. Mayor Murray will vigorously fight these allegations in court."

Murray later said in a short news conference that he will 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. 

 

Other sexual abuse allegations against Murray

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

KIRO 7 News talked to one of the accusers, Jeff Simpson.  Simpson accuses Seattle Mayor Ed Murray of sexually abusing him as a boy, when he lived in a Portland center for troubled youth.

Simpson, now 49, said that Murray was a father figure to him. Simpson said he met Murray at age 6, and the abuse allegedly began at age 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.

Simpson – who has raised these allegations for years – said he's not part of an anti-gay crusade or seeking money, rather just trying to find closure. 

Simpson tried to bring a lawsuit against Murray in 2007, with the second accuser Lloyd Anderson's support, but his lawyer withdrew from the case.

Anderson told The Seattle Times that he also first met Murray at the Portland center for troubled youth. But Anderson left the center, temporarily lived with a Portland-area couple, and then lived on the streets and do drugs, according to The Seattle Times.

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

Lawyer for mayor's accuser claims 'big news' about alleged victims 'soon' 

Lincoln Beauregard represents the 46-year-old Kent man identified as "D.H" who is suing Murray for allegedly sexually assaulting him dozens of times, back in the 80s, beginning when D.H. was only 15 years old. 

Beauregard told KIRO 7 News’ Amy Clancy before Tuesday's news conference that more potential victims may be coming forward.

Beauregard denied he’s searching for other potential victims. 

“We don’t have to search in a case like this,” he said. “They just start calling you, when you’re the attorney on the case. There will be some pretty big news, I’m sure, pretty soon.”

 

No comment from city council 

Seattle City Council President Bruce Harrell says he and his colleagues won't comment on sex abuse accusations made against Mayor Ed Murray.

Harrell issued the following statement on Monday. 

“My Council colleagues and I have no intention of commenting on matters of pending or potential litigation. We believe that it is critically important that, together, we remain committed to the business of governing.

“All City employees and City departments are focused on our core responsibilities of customer service, affordable housing, homelessness, public safety, transportation, education, and ensuring equality for all in a great, but rapidly growing city. The work before us is too critical for the future of Seattle and its residents. We intend to continue working with unwavering dedication to serving the people who put their faith in us.

“Our city cannot afford to be distracted. There is a judicial process that will address the serious allegations that this situation has presented, and we will respect that process and the rights of all parties involved. All accusations of abuse require a thorough investigation. It is in our human nature to immediately want answers, but I ask we not cast aspersions to the parties involved before we have all the facts through the legal process. I am confident that through this process, truth and justice will prevail.

“It is worth repeating we are steadfast and focused on serving the people of Seattle. Council has a strong committee structure that works with the city’s 40 departments in upholding our City Charter ‘of protecting and enhancing the health, safety, environment, and general welfare of the people; to enable municipal government to provide services and meet the needs of the people efficiently; to allow fair and equitable participation of all persons in the affairs of the City; to provide for transparency, accountability, and ethics in governance and civil service; to foster fiscal responsibility; to promote prosperity and to meet the broad needs for a healthy, growing City.’”

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 D.H.'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.
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.
 
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.
 

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