Seattle Mayor Drops Re-Election Bid, Says Sex Abuse Allegations Are Untrue | KUOW News and Information

Seattle Mayor Drops Re-Election Bid, Says Sex Abuse Allegations Are Untrue

May 9, 2017
Originally published on May 10, 2017 9:12 am

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced on Tuesday that he will not run for re-election because of allegations that he sexually abused minors three decades ago.

Murray is a skilled, bare-knuckled politician and it was assumed he would cruise to re-election this year.

But a few weeks ago, he was sued by Delvonn Heckard, 46, who says that back in the 1980s, Murray paid him for sex when Heckard was a minor.

The suit echoed claims made by other men a decade ago, but Murray, 62, vehemently denied wrongdoing. He even got a doctor to rebut certain anatomical evidence offered by his accuser.

But finally, on Tuesday, Murray gave up on seeking a second term.

"The allegations against me paint me in the worst possible historic portraits of a gay man. The allegations against me are not true, and I say this with all honesty and with the deepest sincerity. But the scandal surrounding them and me is hurting this city," Murray said.

Murray will serve out his term through the end of the year.

It's a sobering end to the political career of a man who pushed through civil unions in the state Legislature, and then became Seattle's first mayor in a same-sex marriage.

Political analyst Geov Parrish had urged Murray to bow out, but he says there are some lingering misgivings about how unproven allegations have brought the mayor down.

"The gay community is really concerned about how this applies to them — especially gay men. Because of course the conservative critique of gay men in caricature for many, many years was that they're all pedophiles," Parrish says.

But in the end, Seattle's liberal political establishment turned its back on Murray — in large part because of the aggressive way he attacked the credibility of his accusers, who have criminal records.

Many saw that as blaming the victim.

Parrish says if these claims don't stick in court, it'll be very sad that they were enough to end Murray's political career.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The mayor of Seattle announced Tuesday that he is not running for re-election. This is because of allegations that he sexually abused minors three decades ago. NPR's Martin Kaste has more from Seattle.

MARTIN KASTE, BYLINE: Ed Murray's a skilled, bare-knuckled politician, and it was assumed that he'd cruise to re-election this year. But a few weeks ago, he was sued by a man named Delvonn Heckard. He says back in the '80s, Murray paid him for sex when Heckard was still a minor. That suit echoed claims made by other men a decade ago, but Murray vehemently denied wrongdoing. He even got a doctor to rebut certain anatomical evidence that was offered by his accuser. But finally, yesterday, Murray gave up on re-election.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

ED MURRAY: The allegations against me paint me in the worst possible historic portraits of a gay man. The allegations against me are not true, and I say this with all honesty and with the deepest sincerity. But the scandal surrounding them and me is hurting this city.

KASTE: It's a sobering end to the political career of a man who pushed through civil unions in the state legislature and then became Seattle's first mayor in a same-sex marriage. Geov Parrish is a political analyst here. He'd urged Murray to bow out, but he says there are some lingering misgivings about how these unproven allegations have brought this mayor down.

GEOV PARRISH: The gay community is really concerned about how this applies to them, especially gay men, because of course the conservative critique of gay men in caricature for many, many years was, well, you know, we're all pedophiles.

KASTE: But in the end, Seattle's liberal political establishment turned its back on Murray, in large part because of the aggressive way he attacked the credibility of his accusers, who have criminal records. Many here saw that as blaming the victim. Parrish says that if these claims don't stick in court, it will be very sad that they were enough to end Murray's political career. Martin Kaste, NPR News, Seattle.

(SOUNDBITE OF LEWIS PARKER'S "RISE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.