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Ed Murray

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray abruptly resigned amid sex abuse allegations

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Seattle Mayor Ed Murray abruptly resigned Tuesday, about two hours after The Seattle Times reported that his cousin said Murray had repeatedly molested him in the 1970s when he was a teenager.

Murray's cousin became the fifth man to accuse the mayor of sexual abuse. Earlier allegations of sexual abuse prompted Murray to drop out of his campaign for re-election but he had steadfastly refused to resign until now, our affiliate KOMO reports.

He said his resignation would be effective Wednesday at 5 p.m.

“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 a statement issued at about 1:10 p.m. Tuesday.

“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.

“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."

Under terms of the Seattle city charter, City Council President Bruce Harrell will now take over as Seattle mayor until January, when Murray's term would have ended. Harrell will then be replaced by the winner of the mayoral race in the general election - either Jenny Durkan or Cary Moon.

The Times reported that Dyer, 54, said the molestation occurred when he and Murray shared a bedroom in the Dyer family home on New York's Long Island. Murray and his siblings went to live in New York after their mother died.

Dyer told The Seattle Times that the molestation stopped after a boy in a Catholic group home where Murray worked accused Murray of abuse.

Murray on Tuesday morning denied the new allegations in an interview with the Seattle Times, saying he did live with his cousin, Maryellen Sottile, and her children in New York but did not abuse Dyer. He said there has been a rift in the family for years, and this accusation is untrue.

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Murray has also denied the allegations made by the four other men who previously accused him of molesting them when they were teenagers.

The Seattle Times' report on the latest allegation broke on Tuesday morning, just as Murray and representatives of the Oak View Group were going to detail plans to redevelop KeyArena. That announcement and news conference were abruptly canceled.

Several people had been calling on Murray to resign from the mayoral post even before the latest allegation of sex abuse, including Seattle City Council members M. Lorena Gonzalez and mayoral candidate Cary Moon.

The pressure for him to resign intensified in July after long-lost records unearthed by Oregon's Department of Human Services contained a child-welfare investigator's bombshell finding that Murray had sexually abused his foster son, Jeff Simpson, in 1984. The finding prompted Oregon state officials to conclude that "under no circumstances" should Murray serve as a foster parent in the future.

But other members of the City Council declined to call for his resignation or to take any action to remove him from office, including Council President Bruce Harrell. Harrell even went so far as to say that the sex abuse, if true, happened too long ago to be relevant.

Now that Murray has resigned, he is likely to face lawsuits and claims filed by his accusers.

Delvonn Heckard of Kent, one of Murray's original accusers, earlier filed a claim with the city of Seattle, saying he wants $1 million to $3 million from the city. He contends he was defamed by Murray and his lawyer after his allegations became public.

Dyer has not submitted any legal claims, but he did issue a declaration through his attorney saying that he was the victim of "repeated and prolonged" abuse.

"Murray is an aggravated sex predator, and I was his victim for an extended period," Dyer said in the declaration. He says in the declaration that he is willing to testify in court or impeachment proceedings against Murray.

Murray earlier served as a state representative from 1995 to 2007 and as a state senator, from 2007 to 2011, where he made a name for himself championing LGBTQ rights. He was elected as Seattle mayor in 2013, and began serving in January 2014.

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Today, Mayor Murray released the following statement:

“I am announcing my resignation as mayor, effective at 5 p.m. tomorrow.

“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.

“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.

“In the interest of an orderly transition of power, Council President Bruce Harrell will become Mayor upon my resignation, and will decide within the following five days whether he will fill out the remainder of my term. During this time Director of Operations Fred Podesta has been tasked with leading the transition.”

This report was provided by our affiliate KOMO.

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