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Seattle Mayor Ed Murray Resigns Amid Allegations Of Sexual Abuse

Elaine Thompson
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray takes questions at a June 14 press conference at City Hall. Murray announced his resignation Tuesday.

Updated Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017, at 3:40 p.m. with reactions from local officials, other details

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced Tuesday afternoon that he is resigning. The announcement came hours after The Seattle Times reported that a fifth man has accused Murray of sexual abuse decades ago.

The Seattle Times reported Tuesday that the man is Murray's first cousin once removed, Joseph Dyer.

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 and the alleged abuse happened.

Dyer is a 54-year-old dialysis technician and Air Force veteran.

Four other men have said they were abused by Murray as teenagers. One of them, Delvonn Heckard, filed a lawsuit in April.

Dyer told the newspaper that he was motivated to reach out to Heckard's lawyer after seeing media reports of the other men's accusations. The original lawsuit has since been withdrawn.

Murray has denied all of the allegations. He blamed Dyer's on bad relations between their families.

In a statement, Murray said his resignation is effective at 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," Murray said in the statement.

He said he was proud of accomplishments during his time as a state legislator and as mayor, from a marriage equality bill to Seattle's $15 minimum wage.

“But it has also become clear to me that in light of the latest news reports it is best for the city if I step aside," Murray continued. “To the people of this special city and to my dedicated staff, I am sorry for this painful situation."

City Council President Bruce Harrell will take over as mayor once Murray's resignation goes into effect. Harrell will then have five days to decide whether to fill the remainder of the term.

Harrell did not indicate his intentions in a statement Tuesday, saying that he first wants to talk to his family and other city officials.

"The City must focus on governance and day-to-day business without distraction," Harrell said.

If Harrell does take on the mayor's position, he would lose his council seat, according to a City Council spokeswoman. If he chooses not to, the City Council can appoint someone else from their ranks to the position.

Murray dropped out of this year's mayoral race earlier this spring as allegations began to come forward. 

Advocacy groups such as the city's LGBTQ Commission and the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests had called for Murray's resignation earlier. Councilmembers Lorena Gonzalez and Kshama Sawant had also asked the mayor to step down.

In a statement Tuesday, Sawant said, "...while no one should be tried in the court of public opinion, Murray had failed as an elected leader by repeatedly attacking the character of his accusers, and shifting the focus to their troubled backgrounds to suggest they cannot be trusted."

She also said the council should do more to enact policies to support survivors of sexual violence.

Several mayoral primary candidates had also called for Murray to resign, including urban planner Cary Moon, who faces former U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan in the November general election.

Shortly before the mayor's announcement, Moon doubled down on those calls, saying, "A Mayor's job is to act with integrity and to ensure that every Seattleite feels respected and safe. We have to live the valuse we claim to hold, and whoever is in the Mayor's office must lead by example."

Murray endorsed Durkan when he announced that he wouldn't be running for a second term. Until Tuesday, Durkan stopped short of calling for Murray's resignation. She changed gears in a statement Tuesday afternoon.

"It's clear that it is in everyone's best interest for him to resign. As a parent, former public official and openly gay woman these allegations are beyond sad and tragic; no official is above the law," Durkan said.

Whoever wins in the Nov. 7 mayoral election could take over as mayor as soon as the results are certified rather than early next year, according to a spokeswoman for the City Council.