Seattle Mayor Murray: Teen sex assault allegations ‘simply not true'
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Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said he will continue to govern after a man sued him of alleged child sexual assault over several years in the 1980s.
Murray said in a Friday press conference that the allegations "are simply not true."
"To be on the receiving end of such untrue allegations is very painful for me; it is painful for my husband and for those who are close to us," Murray said. "I understand the individual making these accusations is troubled, and that makes me sad as well."
The mayor said he is not resigning, and he will seek reelection later this year. He did not take reporter questions or comment further on the lawsuit, as it's a legal matter in the courts, and questions must be addressed there.
D.H. alleged he met Murray when he was 15-years-old on a Metro bus, and Murray, who was about 32-years-old at the time, propositioned D.H. to visit his Capitol Hill apartment for sex. The encounters continued for “an extended period of time,” according to court documents.
“Addicted to drugs at the time, D.H. was willing to do whatever Mr. Murray asked for as little as $10-20,” the lawsuit claimed.
The victim recalled details such as Murray’s phone number at the time and the layout of the apartment. He also described Murray’s genitalia to lawyers, according to court documents.
A spokesperson for Murray denied the allegations, calling them “categorically false.”
"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," said Jeff Reading, a spokesperson for Murray. "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's private lawyer, Robert Sulkin, dismissed the allegations in a press conference and said Murray had not had any inappropriate conduct with a minor.
"I don’t think it’s a coincidence that these allegations have occurred in the midst of a mayoral campaign," Sulkin said in a news conference. "Think about it: For 30 years nothing was said and all of a sudden an accuser comes, who apparently, it has been reported, has a long criminal record, and makes these allegations."
Related: Likely next steps in Murray lawsuit
After Murray's Friday press conference, D.H.'s attorney questioned the Mayor's truthfulness.
"It must be a very tough time knowing that he has to explain this, and eventually admit this, to his loving partner, political allies, and the public, which he really didn't do," said Lincoln C. Beauregard, D.H.'s attorney.
KING 5 reached out to Seattle city council members, but so far none of them have commented on the allegations against Murray.
However, Roger Nyhus, who hosted the re-election campaign kickoff for Murray defended his friend on Friday. "I don't believe this is the man that I know, and I'd like to give him the benefit of the doubt, he is innocent until proven otherwise," said Nyhus, a prominent public affairs executive. "I find the timing of this lawsuit highly suspect. I find the motivation of the lawyers very suspect, the founder of the firm for the accuser, is a major donor to anti-gay causes." He also believes that Murray could still govern, saying "I think the Mayor can continue to be a leader, a solid leader, it's going to be the toughest job he's ever had."
D.H. wasn’t the first person to accuse Murray of sexual abuse. Jeff Simpson of Portland, Ore. also claimed Murray abused him as a teenager in the 1980s.
Simpson, 49, said he first met Murray when he was six-years-old living in an orphanage. Murray was appointed Simpson’s resource parent, according to Simpson, and Simpson said he later went to live with Murray.
“He was my only parent figure,” said Simpson, who now works on a county road crew.
The abuse began when Simpson was 13 and continued for about four years. It stopped after Simpson told workers at a group home in 1984 about the abuse.
“Part of what I’ve gone through, the shame and the guilt, that I thought was me,” Simpson said. “Some of the things that I’ve done, it’s been hard to want to go on sometimes.”
Simpson said the lawsuit coming out now “victimizes me again,” and he would testify against Murray.
“I would ask him to please tell the truth,” Simpson said. “Stop this right now and please tell the truth.”
Although the suit comes months before Murray will seek reelection, the lawsuit denied the allegations are politically charged.
“D.H. is disturbed that Mr. Murray maintains a position of trust and authority, and believes that the public has a right to full information when a trusted official exploits a child,” the lawsuit said.
In the suit, D.H. says his father recently died, and processing his death prompted D.H. to file the lawsuit 30 years after the alleged incident.
“These moments of reflection, and awareness that Mr. Murray maintains a position of authority, prompted the filing of this lawsuit in an attempt at accountability, and to hopefully give courage for other potential victims to come forward and speak out,” the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit acknowledged that D.H. has been convicted of several charges, including prostitution during an unrelated sting in 1990.
Editor's note: The lawsuit contains graphic language.