A city councilwoman is asking the Seattle mayor to consider stepping down after a newly surfaced investigation believed Ed Murray abused a foster son in 1984.
Murray's former foster son, Jeff Simpson, is one of four men who publicly accused him this spring of sexually abusing them long ago. Murray adamantly denies the allegations, but he declined to seek re-election in the upcoming race.
The findings were reported Sunday after Oregon's Department of Human Services in April unearthed old records — previously thought to have been destroyed — at The Seattle Times' request. The agency initially withheld many of the documents, but it released them to news outlets, including KIRO-TV, this month after it appealed, agreeing that it was in the public interest to do so.
Councilwoman Lorena González released a statement on Monday that said she is “deeply concerned” about the mayor’s ability to lead, and she asked him to consider stepping down as mayor. A couple of mayoral candidates are sharing that sentiment, calling on the mayor to resign.
Murray released a statement late Monday afternoon, saying he is not leaving office.
Below is a timeline on the sexual assault cases, why leaders are requesting the mayor consider stepping down, a statement from Murray on why he won't resign.
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 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.
Anderson told KIRO 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 at the Perry Center for Children in Portland, where Murray worked. He told KIRO 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. “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 used 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 obtained an unauthenticated 1982 certificate that revealed a foster father relationship.
Newly disclosed 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."
The records show that Oregon state closed Murray's home to foster care in April 1984.
Current responses from the mayor’s team to these 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 Sunday 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.
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 private area. (Murray's attorney said that allegation is false, see details below.)
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, 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.
Current responses from the mayor’s team to these 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" in the area.
Sulkin said the doctor who gave the exam on April 11 has seen Murray for years.
D.H.'s attorney said in statement that they would explore the need for an independent medical exam as ordered by the court. Sulkin told KIRO that 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 handwritten 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 that the abuse happened around the time of the other cases. He did not give a specific year.
Current responses from the mayor’s team to these allegations:
KIRO 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.”
Why councilwoman calls for stepping down
Murray first announced in May that he would not seek re-election amid a lawsuit that claimed he sexually abused a homeless, drug-addicted teen in the '80s. But after the lawsuit was delayed, speculation rose that the mayor would try to run the race as a write-in candidate.
Murray said in a news conference, while endorsing former U.S. attorney Jenny Durkan, that it was not in the best interest of Seattle for him to re-enter the race for mayor.
Meanwhile, coucilwoman González is asking him to considering stepping down.
“Since April, our City has reeled in the aftermath of sexual abuse allegations made against Mayor Ed Murray. I, like many in our community, take these allegations seriously. As a civil rights lawyer, I also take seriously a person’s inalienable right to due process as guaranteed by our U.S. Constitution," she in part of a lengthy statement.
"I am incredibly grateful to the Mayor and his staff. The Mayor’s collaborative approach and his tireless commitment to public service is to be admired. These achievements and my admiration for his ability to get things done are why I endorsed his bid for re-election before these allegations came to light.
“I am, however, now deeply concerned about this Mayor’s ability to continue leading the Executive branch in light of the recently released documents. While the caseworker’s report is not proof of criminal guilt, the gravity of the materials in the findings and the continued attention these issues will receive, raise questions about the ability of the Mayor, his office, his Department heads and senior management to remain focused on the critical issues facing our city. As a result, I am asking the Mayor to consider stepping down as Mayor and to work collaboratively with a subcommittee of the City Council to craft an Executive Leadership Transition Strategy."
González isn't the first to ask the mayor to consider stepping down.
Multiple mayoral candidates responded in May, with some calling on the mayor to resign. Some candidates on Monday, including Cary Moon and Nikkita Oliver, reiterated that call for him to step down from his role as mayor.
Murray not stepping down
The mayor released a statement late Monday afternoon that said he would not resign. Read his entire statement below.
“Since the day several months ago when sexual abuse allegations surfaced against me in the media, I have been clear that those allegations are false. They remain just as false today as they were back then.
“But I also know that the allegations about events more than 30 years ago have created a cloud of uncertainty in the public mind. That is why in May I announced that I would not seek reelection to the job that I love, serving as mayor of Seattle. As I said at the time, it was a very difficult and painful decision for me, but upon reflection I felt that putting the best interests of the city first meant that I had to announce that I would step aside and allow someone else to take leadership of City government at the end of my term.
“Guiding my decisions is my continued focus on what is in the best interest of the city. I know that today a member of the Council has issued a statement calling on me to resign, and warning of action against me if I do not. I continue to believe such a course of action would not be in the city’s best interest. That is why I am not going to resign, and intend to complete the few remaining months of my term as mayor.
“My administration and I continue to govern the city effectively, and I am proud that we continue to deliver results that will improve the lives of the people of Seattle. Last week we announced the opening of an innovative, 75-bed Navigation Center to help house homeless people suffering on our streets. Today we are announcing an agreement to expand the use of body cameras by Seattle Police, so we can increase transparency and accountability and strengthen the bonds of trust between police and our communities. And we have many more important announcements coming over the next few months.
“Seattle needs steady, focused leadership over the next several months. We have a lot of work to do. Establishing an effective transition between administrations takes months of careful planning and preparation – work that I and my team have already begun. We do not need the sort of abrupt and destabilizing transition that a resignation would create, likely bringing the City’s business to a grinding halt. Council action against me would similarly prevent the City’s business from continuing, only so I can again show these allegations from 30 years remain false.”
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