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

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray

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 2024 NPR

Martin Kaste is a correspondent on NPR's National Desk. He covers law enforcement and privacy. He has been focused on police and use of force since before the 2014 protests in Ferguson, and that coverage led to the creation of NPR's Criminal Justice Collaborative.
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