SEATTLE – Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced his resignation Tuesday after a fifth man — one of his cousins — came forward and accused him of sexual abuse decades ago.
Murray, who had already announced that he would not seek a second term even as he denied wrongdoing, said he would step down effective 5 p.m. Wednesday.
“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,” the Democrat said in a statement.
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.
Murray made the announcement after The Seattle Times reported on the new allegations by Joseph Dyer, the son of Murray’s first cousin, Maryellen Sottile.
Four men had previously accused Murray of sexually abusing them. One, 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. At the time, the mayor claimed the dropping of the lawsuit as vindication.
Another man who accused Murray, Jeff Simpson, approached Seattle media with the allegations in 2008, when Murray was a state legislator. Murray had been Simpson’s foster parent in Oregon.
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.
Dyer told the newspaper he was 13 and that 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.
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 calls for his resignation intensified Tuesday after the story was published.
Former US Attorney Jenny Durkan, who is vying to replace him, called for him to step down. Her rival, urban planner Cary Moon, had already done so.
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, Murray said in his statement.
Before being elected mayor in 2013, Murray, 62, was a long-time 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.