Mayor Ed Murray is resigning after new allegations that he sexually abused his cousin in the 1970s. The Seattle Times reported today that Murray’s younger cousin Joseph Dyer accused Murray of sexually abusing him when Murray shared a room with him while living with relatives in New York. Dyer was 13 when the abuse happened, he told the Seattle Times, and Murray was in his early 20s. Dyer is the fifth man to accuse Murray of sexual abuse. Murray dropped out of the race for reelection in May as a result of the allegations.
Murray will resign effective 5 p.m. on Wednesday. In a statement announcing his resignation, Murray denied the allegations.
“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.
Council President Bruce Harrell will become mayor on Wednesday, and will have five days to decide whether to continue the rest of Murray’s term, which lasts until the election on November 7.
Local politicians and candidates responded to the allegations and Murray’s resignation.
Cary Moon, one of two candidates in the mayoral election, said in a statement:
“As a mother I am angry, as a resident of this city I am ashamed.
Mayor Murray’s response to the many allegations of sexual abuse have been deeply inappropriate and harmful, especially to survivors, LGBTQ people and young people everywhere. Survivors of sexual assault must be believed and treated with respect.
….A Mayor’s job is to act with integrity and to ensure that every Seattleite feels respected and safe. We have to live the values we claim to hold, and whoever is in the Mayor’s office must lead by example.”
Jenny Durkan, the other mayoral candidate, had previously not called on Murray to resign, but did so today. In a statement Durkan said:
“It is time for Mayor Murray to step down….It’s clear that it is in everybody’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.”
Before his resignation today, Councilmember Kshama Sawant was one of two councilmembers, along with Lorena González, to call for Murray’s resignation. In statement Sawant said:
I join the working people and community members of Seattle who are understandably relieved at Mayor Ed Murray’s resignation….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.
I commend all individuals and organizations – including Danni Askini of the Gender Justice League, the City of Seattle’s LGBTQ Commission and Human Rights Commission, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), and Councilmember Gonzalez – who showed courage and leadership in calling on Murray to resign. Unfortunately, the majority of the City Council failed to show any such leadership.”
In a statement Murray said:
“I’m proud of all that I have accomplished over my 19 years in the Legislature, where I was able to pass what were at the time the largest transportation packages in state history, a landmark gay civil rights bill and a historic marriage equality bill.
And I am proud of what we have accomplished together at the City during my time as mayor, passing a nation-leading $15 minimum wage, and major progressive housing affordability and police accountability legislation, as well as negotiating an agreement to build a world-class arena that I believe in time will bring the NHL and NBA to Seattle.
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.
To the people of this special city and to my dedicated staff, I am sorry for this painful situation.”