Ed Murray denies abuse allegations: 'I will not back down'
SEATTLE -- Seattle Mayor Ed Murray gave a short and defiant statement Friday after being accused of child sexual abuse nearly 30 years ago.
"I have never backed down," he said. "And I will not back down now."
In his first public statement on the matter, Murray said he intends to continue to be mayor and to run for re-election.
"Let me be clear: These allegations, dating back to a period of more than 30 years, are simply not true," he said.
The allegations, he said, have been painful for him, his husband and people close to him.
A man is accusing Murray of sexual misconduct over a several-year span in the 1980s.
He filed a lawsuit in King County Superior Court Thursday.
The plaintiff’s attorney claims he was a child prostitute at age 15 who carried on a sexual relationship with Murray.
The suit claims the plaintiff had dropped out of high school as a freshman in 1986 and frequently rode a Metro bus on Capitol Hill. It's on the bus that he met Murray, the suit claims.
The plaintiff says they two developed a friendly interaction and Murray propositioned the plaintiff for private visits to his Capitol Hill apartment. According to the suit, the interaction turned sexual and the teen, admittedly addicted to drugs at the time, would do whatever Murray asked for as little as $10-$20. Details in the filing papers include a description of birthmarks, the layout of Murray's old apartment, and other specific descriptions.
The suit says it was only recently after the plaintiff's father died that he underwent counseling and decided to come forward.
"These moments of reflection, and awareness that Mr. Murray maintains a position of authority, prompted the filing of this lawsuit in an attempt at accountability," the plaintiff's lawyer wrote in the suit, "and to hopefully give courage for other potential victims to come forward and speak out."
Murray's attorney Bob Sulkin held a press conference Thursday afternoon to refute the accusations.
"Unfortunately, defending these types of lawsuits is now the cost of being a public figure..." Sulkin said. "The allegations are false. He has not engaged in any inappropriate conduct with a minor, and I don't think it's a coincidence that these allegations have occurred in the midst of a mayoral campaign... At the end of the day, we're going to defend this lawsuit vigorously, the mayor is going to do his job for the city of Seattle, and this accuser is going to have to explain himself."
Murray's spokesperson, Jeff Reading, also issued a statement in regards to the accusations:
“These false accusations are intended to damage a prominent elected official who has been a defender of vulnerable populations for decades. It is not a coincidence that this shakedown effort comes within weeks of the campaign filing deadline. These unsubstantiated assertions, dating back three decades, are categorically false. Mayor Murray has never engaged in an inappropriate relationship with any minor. The two older accusations were promoted by extreme right-wing antigay activists in the midst of the marriage equality campaign, and were thoroughly investigated and dismissed by both law enforcement authorities and the media. Mayor Murray will vigorously fight these allegations in court."
Murray, 61, has been the Mayor since 2014 and is running for reelection. Prior to being Seattle’s Mayor he was in the state Legislature, as both a Senator and a Representative. He is married, his husband works for the City of Seattle.