Embattled Seattle Mayor Ed Murray will not run for re-election amid a sex abuse scandal.
On KIRO 7 News' team coverage at 5, watch an exclusive interview with one of the mayor’s accusers. The accuser tells our Dave Wagner why he took so long to come forward. Watch on-air or here.
Murray's new allegations started after a lawsuit claimed that he sexually abused a homeless, drug-addicted teen in the 1980s. The lawsuit prompted three other accusers to come forward with similar stories.
Surrounded by family members and his political allies on Tuesday, Murray announced he will remain in office until the end of the year. Murray again adamantly denied the allegations, but he said Seattle voters must not be distracted from city issues during the upcoming campaign.
"It tears me to pieces to step away but I believe it's in the best interest of this city that I love," Murray said, reading a teleprompter. “The scandal surrounding [me] is hurting this city. It hurts those who have been victims of abuse. It hurts my family … For these reasons, I am announcing I am withdrawing as a candidate for mayor. And why I am happy or reflect all we have accomplished, I must admit that my heart aches.”
Nearly a dozen people have announced candidacy for this fall’s mayoral race. Some candidates said Murray should still resign.
- A 46-year-old man in Kent – Delvonn Heckard – filed a lawsuit in April claiming Murray sexually abused him.
- Two other men accused Murray of abusing them in the 1980s and paying them for sex.
- A fourth accuser wrote a declaration as part of evidence in Heckard’s lawsuit that Murray gave him money for sex.
- Murray, 61, has denied the allegations, saying they are politically motivated.
- Murray's attorney said the lawsuit has no merit after Murray's doctor exam showed no mole as specifically described in the complaint.
- Murray served as the Washington state legislator representing the 43rd Legislative District for 18 years. Scroll down to read the section about his career below.
Below read a breakdown of the lawsuit and Murray's responses.
About the lawsuit
A 46-year-old Kent man sued Murray in April, 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 in King County Superior Court, plaintiff Delvonn 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.
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 Heckard "believes that the public has a right to full information when a trusted official exploits a child," according to the lawsuit.
In the lawsuit, Heckard claims that he experienced moments of reflection and awareness after his father’s death and subsequent counseling, which prompted the filing of the lawsuit.
Heckard admits in the complaint that he was convicted of various charges related to drug use and prostitution.
In early May, 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:
Jones said 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.
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, Sulkin also cited a 2015 normal exam that he said found no abnormalities.
He called the exam 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.
Heckard '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:
“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."
When Murray spoke publicly for the first time after the lawsuit filing, he 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 his first news conference after the lawsuit was filed. He said because this situation is a legal matter, questions needed to stay in the courts.
Over the last month, Murray has briefly responded to reporters questions during news conferences.
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 talked to KIRO 7 News in an exclusive interview. Anderson said he met Murray while living at the center, where he befriended Simpson.
"I was 15 and we just let it go. We just never talked about it again,” said Anderson.
Anderson says when he was 17, he ran into Murray in downtown Portland and said Murray invited him to his apartment, giving him drug money to perform oral sex.
Anderson said after he turned 18, Murray wasn't interested in him anymore.
"I think about it almost every day,” said Anderson. "Ed Murray had offered me money in exchange for oral sex. I obliged. I think that's the hardest thing-- to sit here and say right now, because I did."
Anderson has had his own troubles in the decades since he met Murray. He’s a registered sex offender who served time in prison for lewd and lascivious acts with a child under 16. Today, he’s married with children and said he’s a man of faith, not judgement.
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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