A child protection investigator in Oregon concluded in 1984 that Seattle Mayor Ed Murray had abused a boy in his care.
In documents made public by The Seattle Times, the investigator said the future mayor of Seattle should never be a foster parent again.
The documents, long thought lost, involve one of the mayor's chief accusers, Jeff Simpson, who lived with Murray for a year and a half as a foster child.
The documents also tell the story of what happened after the investigator decided Simpson had been abused: a county prosecutor withdrew the case from a grand jury.
“We could not be sure of meeting the high burden of proof in a criminal case – a proof beyond a reasonable doubt and to a moral certainty,” a letter from the Multnomah County district attorney said.
The Seattle Times published the 1984 Protective Service abuse assessment, the letter from the District Attorney’s Office discussing the decision not to proceed with charges against Murray, and a letter to the Times from Murray’s lawyers. In another letter, the state of Oregon gives its reasons for releasing the documents.
Documents about foster parents and the children under their care are usually protected. However, Oregon officials told the Times they made an exception because the matter involves a person who is now a public official.
In a statement released Sunday (full version below), Murray denied abusing Jeff Simpson or any other minor and said the documents provided no new evidence. A total of four men have accused Murray of abusing them when they were teens.
Murray abandoned his bid for re-election after one of them, Delvonn Heckard, filed a civil lawsuit alleging abuse.
The lawsuit was dropped last month, and Murray pointed to that as vindication that he had done nothing wrong.
He endorsed candidate Jenny Durkan for mayor. She did not immediately respond Sunday to requests for comment from KUOW.
The documents are surfacing just as candidates for mayor are preparing for Monday's KUOW-KING 5 debate.
Here is Murray's full statement on Sunday:
I have said from the beginning that I never harmed or had an inappropriate relationship with Jeff Simpson. That remains just as true today as when I first said it. I have never engaged in sexual activity with Jeff Simpson or with any other minor.
The Seattle Times story today does not change the basic facts of what happened in 1984, nor does it offer any tangible new evidence to buttress Jeff’s claim. More than thirty years ago, Jeff made an accusation against me – and, contrary to what he had previously told the Times and other local media, against another foster parent.
Those accusations were fully investigated at the time, and the District Attorney decided there was too much doubt to go forward with a case against me or the other foster parent. In fact, after examining the hundreds of pages of documents generated by the investigation, the District Attorney actually withdrew the case from the Grand Jury.
The Child Protective Services documents the Times based its story on obviously do not tell the full story. Consistent with the findings of the District Attorney that the accusations could not be proven, there is a record with numerous accounts from others who found considerable credibility issues with Jeff and his claims.
Jeff’s case worker at CPS never interviewed me or shared her findings with me or my attorney. That she believed Jeff's claims at the time and advocated on his behalf is painful to see, but does not change the fact that, based on the totality of the evidence that was collected, the District Attorney declined to file charges.
The District Attorney wrote that her withdrawing of the case does not mean that Jeff Simpson’s claims are false. But this statement should not be taken to mean that she believed them to be true.
Thirty-three years ago, I opened my home to a young man who, like all children, I believed deserved a stable, supportive home environment. Given my honest and heartfelt commitment to creating this for Jeff, his accusations were and remain incredibly painful, especially given that none of them are based in truth or reality. It is my sincerest hope now – as it was then – that he is provided the help and support he needs to lead a happy life.