Skip to main Content

Seattle mayor resigns in face of latest sexual abuse accusations

  • Author: Jim Brunner, Daniel Beekman, The Seattle Times
  • Updated: September 12, 2017
  • Published September 12, 2017

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray speaks during a rally at the beginning of the March For Science in Seattle, Washington, on April 22, 2017. (David Ryder / Reuters file)

SEATTLE — Seattle Mayor Ed Murray resigned Tuesday, just hours after new allegations that he had sexually abused a younger cousin decades ago in New York.

Murray, a former Democratic state legislator elected mayor in 2013, said in a statement that he is resigning effective 5 p.m. PDT Wednesday.

"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, adding he was proud of his accomplishments while in office.

The mayor stayed in his office Tuesday and didn't address his staff at large before his resignation announcement, according to a source. Pizza was seen being delivered to his staff on the seventh floor of City Hall.

City Council President Bruce Harrell will temporarily serve as mayor and will decide within five days whether to fill out the remainder of Murray's term. If he decides against it, the council would pick another of its members to serve as mayor until the Nov. 7 election results are certified.

In a statement, Harrell said, "my heart goes out" to survivors of sexual abuse due to "the re-traumatization these allegations have caused … "

"These accusations are unspeakable and require the utmost attention from our legal and social service system no matter how long ago they might have occurred," Harrell said.

Harrell added the city "must focus on governance and day-to-day business without distraction," saying he has a plan in place for a "seamless transition."

Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant blasted her colleagues for not acting to push Murray from office sooner. "Unfortunately, the majority of the City Council failed to show any such leadership," she said.

Murray's resignation came shortly after The Seattle Times reported Tuesday morning on allegations by Murray's cousin, Joseph Dyer, 54, who has become the fifth man to publicly accuse Murray of child sexual abuse.

Dyer says he was 13 when Murray forced him into sex when the two shared a bedroom at Dyer's mother's home in Medford, Long Island, in the mid-1970s.
His mother, Maryellen Sottile, said "we were very glad to hear that he's resigned. We hope it helps the others in some way."

Another accuser, Lloyd Anderson, issued a statement Tuesday through his lawyer.

"I feel victory, but saddened that it required another victim to come forward for him to resign. I wonder how many other victims are out there," said Anderson, who has alleged he was paid for sex as a teenager by Murray in the 1980s in Portland, Ore.

Murray, 62, has repeatedly denied that he sexually abused anyone, contending that the accusations are part of a political takedown targeting him for his progressive politics and record as a gay-rights champion. He attributed the latest claims to bad blood between two estranged wings of the family.

Murray ended his bid for a second term earlier this year because of the scandal, but had staved off calls to resign before his term ended.

He had retained support for finishing out his term from a majority of the City Council and four former mayors.

But his remaining support deteriorated after the latest allegations emerged Tuesday.

"It's clear that it is in everybody's best interest for him to resign. As a parent, former public official and openly gay woman, these allegations are beyond sad and tragic; no official is above the law," candidate Jenny Durkan said in a statement just before Murray announced his resignation.

Durkan, a former U.S. attorney, had accepted Murray's endorsement and had previously declined to call for his resignation.

Her rival in the mayor's race, Cary Moon, called for Murray to step down months ago.

Moon reiterated her stance Tuesday, saying the mayor's response to the allegations had been "deeply inappropriate and harmful, especially to survivors, LGBTQ people and young people everywhere. Survivors of sexual assault must be believed and treated with respect."

Former Mayor Greg Nickels, who had previously said Murray should be allowed to finish his term, said in an email Tuesday "Given the new allegations … the Mayor is making the right decision (to resign)."

(Staff reporter Lewis Kamb contributed to this report.)

Local news matters.

Support independent, local journalism in Alaska.