New developments in the ongoing saga of the Mayor Ed Murray Abuse Scandal continue to emerge. Last week, the Seattle Times printed a damning indictment of Murray, Seattle’s first openly gay mayor who was elected in 2013, that investigators in Portland, Oregon had determined that Murray, then a resident of that city, was guilty of sexual abuse of a male minor in incidents that date from 1984.
An Oregon child-welfare investigator concluded that Ed Murray sexually abused his foster son in the early 1980s, leading state officials to assert that “under no circumstances should Mr. Murray be certified” as a foster parent in the future, according to public records obtained by The Seattle Times.
The investigation by Oregon Child Protective Services (CPS) of Jeff Simpson’s allegations determined them to be valid — meaning the agency believed Murray sexually abused Simpson, the records show.
“In the professional judgement of this caseworker who has interviewed numerous children of all ages and of all levels of emotional disturbance regarding sexual abuse, Jeff Simpson has been sexually abused by … Edward Murray,” CPS caseworker Judy Butler wrote in the May 1984 assessment.
The Times’ story appeared on July 16 and reignited the furor over claims that Murray has sexually abused four different male identitfied minors under the age of consent in separate incidents in the 1980s.
Mayor Murray responded to these allegations the following day after they were brought up in a Seattle City Council meeting:
“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.
The calls for Murray to resign have increased over the course of the last week and today, the city’s own LGBT Commission many of them actually appointed by Murray himself, released a letter calling for the Mayor to step down, citing a pressing need “that survivors of sexual assault must be believed and honored, no matter their identity or social standing…”
Dear Mayor Murray,
We are writing to request your immediate resignation as Mayor of Seattle. Due to allegations and mounting evidence that you have repeatedly engaged in sexual abuse of minors, we believe that you should no longer serve as the leader of the City of Seattle. Lloyd Anderson, Jeff Simpson, Maurice Levon Jones, and Delvonn Heckard have all come forward with their personal experiences of abuse and evidence has recently emerged illustrating that you did abuse Simpson.
We acknowledge that you have dismissed these allegations of sexual assault as “right-wing, anti-gay” activity. It is true that homophobic acts remain highly prevalent and destructive within the LGBTQ community. It is also true that within our LGBTQ community, many axes of power, including class, race, ethnicity, immigration status, gender, and disability aim to suppress our power by dividing us.
We perceive your attempt to dismiss these claims as a “politically motivated” monolithic issue of homophobia to be a maneuver that is divisive and damaging to our community. Claiming homophobic intent to shield yourself from accountability and erase the experiences of survivors of sexual abuse is silencing, manipulative, and morally repugnant.
In addition to the evidence regarding deeply grave sexual abuse, we believe your response has been harmful and inappropriate, particularly to LGBTQ individuals, survivors of sexual abuse, and individuals with criminal history. You have responded to the allegations by invoking the accusers’ criminal records as proof of their unreliability. We affirm that survivors of sexual assault must be believed and honored, no matter their identity or social standing.
To serve in the honorable role of Mayor of Seattle, one should be an exemplar of leadership, accountability, and honesty. Based on what we know at this time, we do not believe that you can embody these ideals, and public trust in your leadership has eroded.
We stand in solidarity with survivors of sexual assault, and all those disproportionately impacted by abuses of power. As a Commission, we aim to uplift, not silence, the perspectives and experiences of the most marginalized members of our community.
Noting both that you are the first openly gay Mayor of Seattle, and that many individuals on the Seattle LGBTQ Commission were appointed by you, we do not take our decision to call for your resignation lightly. While some may say that you should be given the opportunity to serve out the remainder of your term, we feel that would be inadequate. With both moral and pragmatic motivations, we feel we must call for your resignation.
Continuing in your position as Mayor sends a clear, devastating message to current and past survivors of sexual assault (including young people who may currently be experiencing abusive situations), that their pain and experiences are less important than maintaining the status quo; staying in office distracts Seattle from critical matters that require our full energy now such as addressing the homelessness crisis; remaining in office erodes our civil institutions and our commitment to justice.
It is for these reasons that the Seattle LGBTQ Commission is requesting you resign from your position.
The letter is signed Julia Riccardi, the co-chair of the Seattle LGBT Commission who meet monthly to discuss issues of importance for the city’s LGBT community and to report to and advise both the Office of the Mayor and the City Council. The two other co-chairs are Manuel Venegas and Ray Corona and six other people sit on the commission which normally should consist of 16 Seattle citizens appointed by the Mayor and the Council.
While the city’s previous mayor, Mike McGinn has called for Murray to resign (and, is actively campaigning to return to the Mayor’s office in the current municipal elections) four other former mayors of Seattle issued a letter today insisting Murray should NOT resign largely based on their insistence that doing so would be costly to the city.
We firmly believe Mayor Murray should continue to lead the city through the remainder of his term. A transition merely months before electing a new mayor would be messy and time consuming, and would present serious challenges to the day-to-day operations of the city. As former mayors, we know transitions are long, difficult, and important processes, which is why Mayor Murray and his team have already begun the job of preparing for the new mayor to be sworn in next year.
The letter is signed by Charles Royer (1978 – 1990) a mentor to Mayor Murray as well as Wes Uhlman (1970 – 1978), Norm Rice (1990 – 1998) and Greg Nickels (2002 -2010).