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Sawant: Sex abuse allegations 'should always be taken seriously'

City Councilmember Kshama Sawant (File photo)

SEATTLE - City Councilmember Kshama Sawant said Wednesday morning a sexual abuse case -- like that alleged against Mayor Ed Murray -- shouldn't be tried in "a court of public opinion," and all such allegations should be taken seriously.

Sawant's statement is the second to come from the council and is far less of a 'no comment' than that the one issued by council President Bruce Harrell on Monday.

"While I cannot speak to the veracity of the claims, allegations of rape and abuse should always be taken seriously and investigated with care and diligence. I also believe it is vital to not remain silent on a matter such as this," Sawant said in the emailed statement. "Our society, plagued by inequality and enormous imbalances of both power and wealth, is a painful place for sexual violence survivors."

A Seattle-area man, known only as D.H. in court documents, filed a lawsuit last week claiming Murray had paid him for sex at least 50 times over the course of several years in the 1980s, starting when the man was just 15 years old. He also said in the suit the sex sometimes turned aggressive.

Murray, a Democrat seeking a second term in office, has denied the claims, and Tuesday his attorney brought forward a medical report that he claimed proved the case was false. The report found no evidence of a mole described in the suit, according to copies shared with the media.

Sawant's mention of the "court of public opinion" may be a reference to the multiple public statements made by attorneys on both sides, as well as Murray himself and his personal spokesperson. One of the lawyers for the man bringing the suit also appeared to make statements in the comments section of the Stranger's SLOG.

Sawant also referred to attacks on victims.

"We have heard in recent days how survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence are reliving their own experiences of summoning the courage to come forward only to have their characters attacked," she said in the statement. "For many survivors, healing from the psychological violence of sexual abuse is a difficult, and sometimes lifelong process."

Murray on Friday, in his only public statement on the matter, called the man bringing the claims "troubled." In the suit, the man admits to having had several drug convictions as well as a prostitution charge unrelated to the allegations against Murray.

Sawant steered clear of commenting specifically on the suit against Murray, and instead made a call to action on behalf of sexual assault victims.

"Regardless of the outcome of this specific case, we need a real discussion about rape, molestation, sexual assault, sexual harassment and domestic violence in our society, and in that discussion the voices of survivors must be centered," she said.

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Seattlepi.com is a media partner of KOMO News. Read the original seattlepi.com story ...


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