Seattle mayor won't resign calling sex abuse allegations 'simply not true'

by: KIRO 7 News Staff Updated:

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Seattle Mayor Ed Murray spoke publicly for the first time on Friday afternoon after a new lawsuit alleged he sexually abused a teenager in the 1980s.

Murray said 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.” 

If Murray stepped down or was incapacitated, the Charter of the City of Seattle outlines who would temporarily assume job of mayor. 

The first in the line of succession is City Council President Bruce Harrell. If Harrell is unable to fulfill the duties of "acting mayor," the position would fall to Council President Pro Tempore Rob Johnson. 

If the change happens for any reason, the Office of Emergency Management must be notified. 

About the lawsuit

A 46-year-old Kent man has sued Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, claiming that while he was a homeless teen addicted to crack cocaine, 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 aid $10 to $20 for sexual acts that continued for an extended period of time, the lawsuit claims.
 
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.

 

Murray’s response

After the news of the lawsuit surfaced on Thursday afternoon, Murray, 61, denied the allegations in a statement to KIRO 7 News after abruptly canceling a news conference about police reform.
 
The mayor’s personal spokesman, Jeff Reading, sent the following statement:

“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."
 
A private attorney for Murray told reporters at a news conference Thursday afternoon that the mayor was going to continue doing his job for the city of Seattle.
 
Murray reiterated his spokesman's comments in person on Friday. The mayor would not take questions from the media. He said because this situation is a legal matter, questions needed to stay in the courts. 

Other sexual abuse allegations against Murray

The Seattle Times reported  that two other men accused Murray of abusing them in the 1980s and paying them for sex, and said they'd be willing to testify about it.
 
Jeff Simpson and Lloyd Anderson said they knew Murray when they lived in the Portland center for troubled children. The Times said one of them talked with a social worker and detective at the time. No charges were filed and an entry in an old Multnomah County district attorney's database indicates the office considered but rejected a felony third-degree sodomy case in May 1984. Any other police and child welfare records would have been destroyed by now, officials said.
 
Simpson and Anderson raised the allegations a decade ago in calls to reporters and Washington state lawmakers, and they repeated them in recent interviews with the Times.
 
Reading's statement acknowledged those accusations.
 
"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," the statement said.
 
Simpson, 49, said Murray — whom he thought of as a father — raped him over several years, starting at 13, and in later years, paid him.
 
"I would really like for him to admit it and to take responsibility," Simpson told two Times reporters who visited him unannounced in Portland. "I don't necessarily think that he destroyed my life, but I believe a lot of the problems I have stemmed from this."
 
Simpson tried to bring a lawsuit against Murray in 2007, with Anderson's support, but his lawyer withdrew from the case. In 2008, Simpson started calling media organizations and lawmakers in Olympia, saying Murray, then a state senator, was a pedophile who had sexually abused him.
 

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.