This June 14 photo shows Seattle Mayor Ed Murray taking a question at a news conference at City Hall in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson,File)

This June 14 photo shows Seattle Mayor Ed Murray taking a question at a news conference at City Hall in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson,File)

Fifth man’s charges of abuse lead Seattle mayor to resign

Ed Murray denies abuse which a cousin claims began when the cousin was 13.

21:14

By Gene Johnson And Rachel La Corte / Associated Press

SEATTLE — Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, beset over the past five months by sex abuse allegations, is set to resign, bringing an ignoble end to a lengthy political career in which he championed gay rights and better pay for workers.

His announcement that he plans to resign came after The Seattle Times reported that a fifth man — one of his cousins — had accused Murray of molesting him decades ago. Though he has vehemently denied all of the accusations against him, Murray, a Democrat, had already decided not to seek re-election.

“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 said in a statement Tuesday.

He apologized to his staff and to the city for “this painful situation,” and said it had become clear that his resignation was best for the city.

The news left the city waiting to hear who would fulfill the remaining months in his term.

The latest allegations came from Joseph Dyer, the son of Murray’s first cousin, Maryellen Sottile. Dyer told the newspaper in a story published Tuesday that he was 13 and Murray was in his early 20s when Murray came to live with Dyer’s family in Medford, New York, in 1975. The two shared a bedroom, and Murray repeatedly molested him over the course of a year, Dyer said.

“There would be times when I would fake sleeping because I didn’t want him touching me,” Dyer said.

Dyer said the molestation stopped only after Murray was accused of abuse by a boy in a Catholic group home where Murray worked. Dyer told the newspaper his uncle persuaded the group home not to pursue charges as long as Murray left.

Efforts by The Associated Press to reach Dyer were not immediately successful.

Murray, who is gay, has not faced criminal charges. He denied abusing Dyer and blamed the allegation on resentment between their families.

He initially told the Times he would not resign, but eventually did so as pressure mounted Tuesday.

Former U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan, who is vying to succeed him, called for Murray to step down and removed his endorsement from her campaign website. Her rival, urban planner Cary Moon, reiterated her own call for Murray’s resignation, which she first made months ago.

“Mayor Murray is doing the right thing by stepping down,” Gov. Jay Inslee said in a statement. “He has done good things for Seattle and his resignation will allow the city to move forward.”

City Council President Bruce Harrell will become mayor upon Murray’s resignation and has five days to decide whether to fill out the remainder of his term. If he declines, the council would appoint someone else, possibly Councilman Tim Burgess, who is retiring this year.

Before being elected mayor in 2013, Murray, 62, was a longtime state lawmaker who led the campaign to legalize same-sex marriage in Washington state. As mayor he pushed to raise the city’s minimum hourly wage to $15.

Murray grew up in working-class neighborhoods in and around Seattle as one of seven children in an Irish Catholic family and became one of the state’s most prominent political figures.

As a young man, he considered joining the priesthood and spent a year at a seminary in 1976 before studying sociology at the University of Portland, a private Catholic institution.

Murray worked as a paralegal with public defender lawyers in Portland before returning to Seattle and joining the vanguard of the gay rights movement in the 1980s, serving as campaign manager for Cal Anderson, a Seattle state senator who was the state’s first openly gay member.

Anderson, Murray’s mentor, died in 1995. Murray failed in his bid to win Anderson’s seat, but he was appointed to fill the legislative seat of the state representative who won the state Senate campaign.

During his 18 years as a state lawmaker, Murray was the prime sponsor of Washington’s gay marriage law, spearheaded an effort to protect LGBTQ youth in public schools, and led the state’s push to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation.

As mayor, Murray recently fought to boost funding to address Seattle’s homelessness crisis.

Before Dyer, four men had accused Murray of sexually abusing them. Delvonn Heckard sued the mayor in April, saying Murray had paid him for sex when Heckard was a teen.

Heckard subsequently dropped the case, saying he would refile it after Murray was out of office. The mayor claimed the dropping of the lawsuit as vindication.

Another man who accused Murray, his former foster son Jeff Simpson, had first approached Seattle media with the allegations in 2008, when Murray was a state legislator. The Times decided at the time not to write about the allegations because details could not be verified.

This year, Oregon’s Department of Human Services discovered old files that included a child-welfare investigator’s conclusion that Murray sexually abused Simpson in the early 1980s.

La Corte reported from Olympia.

Talk to us

More in Northwest

The Supreme Court in Washington D.C. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Supreme Court limits EPA in curbing power plant emissions

This impacts how the nation’s main anti-air pollution law can be used to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

NO CAPTION. Logo to accompany news of Washington state.
Washington state license plates prices increase July 1

The price of a new plate will rise from $10 to $50, and replacing a lost plate will increase from $10 to $30.

Hundreds gather to listen to a lineup of guest speakers during Snohomish County’s “Bans Off Our Bodies” rally Saturday, May 14, 2022, outside the county courthouse in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade; states can ban abortion

The decision is expected to lead to abortion bans in roughly half the states.

FILE - In this photo provided by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources, a crane and boats are anchored next to a collapsed "net pen" used by Cooke Aquaculture Pacific to farm Atlantic Salmon near Cypress Island in Washington state on Aug. 28, 2017, after a failure of the nets allowed tens of thousands of the nonnative fish to escape. A Washington state jury on Wednesday, June 22, 2022, awarded the Lummi Indian tribe $595,000 over the 2017 collapse of the net pen where Atlantic salmon were being raised, an event that elicited fears of damage to wild salmon runs and prompted the Legislature to ban the farming of the nonnative fish. (David Bergvall/Washington State Department of Natural Resources via AP, File)
Jury awards $595,000 to Lummi tribe for salmon pen collapse

The tribe sued, saying the pen owner had not reimbursed the tribal government for its clean up effort.

FILE - Alaska Airlines planes are parked at gates with Mount Rainier in the background at sunrise, on March 1, 2021, at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Seattle. A union has reached a deal Wednesday, June 22, 2022, with Seattle-based Alaska Airlines for a two-year contract extension that provides substantial raises for 5,300 gate agents, stores personnel and office staff, as well as for ramp workers who load cargo. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
Alaska Airlines reaches contract deal with some workers

Raises for gate agents, stores personnel, office staff, as well as ramp workers who load cargo.

NO CAPTION. Logo to accompany news of Seattle.
Seattle facing $117 million revenue shortfall in 2023

The city’s budget chief says there’s no easy way to bridge the gap.

A view from the lower undeveloped part of the Flowery Trail neighborhood looking at spots where slash piles have been burned - outside Chewelah, Wash. (Erick Doxey / InvestigateWest)
Growing sprawl in state’s woods comes with high wildfire risk

Policymakers and homeowners are scrambling to manage the so-called “wildland-urban interface” to mitigate the threat.

The kids thought it was milk. It was actually floor sealant

In Juneau, containers of the chemical were stacked on the same pallet as boxes containing pouches of milk.

NO CAPTION. Logo to accompany news of Seattle.
Initiative to change Seattle elections heads toward ballot

The initiative would alter the way Seattle elects mayors, city attorneys and City Council members.

Lynnwood
Lynnwood climber supports first all-Black Mount Everest summit bid

Fred Campbell was part of the historic expedition, but got sick and had to turn back before the submit.

The A.J. Eisenberg Airport in Oak Harbor. (Karina Andrew / Whidbey News-Times)
Local pilot plans to buy Whidbey Island airport

Robert DeLaurentis, known as the “Zen Pilot,” submitted a letter of intent to purchase the A.J. Eisenberg Airport.